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Lumbar spine

Structure and location of the lumbar spine and features of the lumbar vertebrae.

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Well, hello again! It’s Matt from Kenhub, and in this tutorial, we will do a quick overview of the lumbar spine. The lumbar vertebrae are located at the bottom section of the vertebral column inferior to the rib cage and superior to the pelvis and sacrum. Since these vertebrae are most largely responsible for bearing the weight of the upper body and permitting movement, they are logically also the largest segments of the vertebral column. These vertebrae are characterized by the absence of the foramen transversarium within the transverse process and by the absence of facets on the sides of the body.

There are five lumbar vertebrae found in adult humans denoted as L1 to L5 and they are situated beneath the thoracic vertebrae being largest in size of all the vertebrae since the lumbar vertebrae must be able to support the weight of the body when a person is standing due to the effects of gravity. While most people have five lumbar vertebrae, there are individuals who have four or six lumbar vertebrae. In these individuals, the lumbar disorders that normally affect L5 will now affect L4 or L6.

The vertebral foramen is triangular-shaped within the arch and lower in size than in the thoracic vertebrae but smaller than in the cervical vertebrae. The superior and inferior articular processes are well-defined and project upward and downward from the junctions of pedicles and laminae respectively. The superior processes are concave and face medially like when the palms of the hands are facing each other when about to clap, whereas, the inferior processes are convex and face lateralward toward the superior processes of the next vertebra. This anatomical confirmation allows for resistance against the twisting of the lower spine.

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