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What is the Lumbar Spine?
The lumbar spine – or low back – is the third major region of the spine (Figure 1). Most people have five bones or vertebrae in the lumbar spine, although it is not unusual to have six. Each vertebra is stacked on top of the other and between each vertebra is a gel-like cushion called a disc (intervertebral disc). The discs help to absorb pressure, distribute stress, and keep the vertebrae from grinding against each other.


The column-like spinal cord is divided into segments similar to the corresponding vertebrae:

  • cervical
  • thoracic
  • lumbar
  • sacral
  • coccygeal

The cord also has nerve roots and rootlets which form branch-like appendages. Along the dorsal root are the cells of the dorsal root ganglia, critical in the transmission of “pain” messages from the cord to the brain. Here is where injury, damage, and trauma become pain.

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