We know that the spine serves two basic functions:
- To support our bodies so that we can stand upright
- To protect our spinal cord and the nerves that branch out from it
We also know that different parts of the spine correlate to different parts of the body based on the types of nerves that stem out from each vertebrae. We’ve discussed two sections of the spine so far — the cervical spine and the thoracic spine. We’ve also looked at the nervous system as a whole and the part the spine plays in protecting it.
In today’s post, we’re going to look at the heavyweight champ of the spine: the lumbar spine. We’ll also look at the sacral spine and how these two sections function, as well as their importance to the rest of the body.
If you’ve been experiencing chronic lower-back pain or even pain in your pelvis, the cause could be a misalignment in either of these sections of your spine. Contact Senara Health and Healing Center & Spa in Peoria today to schedule an appointment with one of our chiropractors.
The Anatomy of the Lumbar Spine
When we call the lumbar section the heavyweight champ of your spine, we mean it. Your lumbar vertebrae are larger and denser than the other vertebrae in your back, suiting them to support tasks like lifting and carrying. They’re also the part of the spine that bears the weight of the body itself.
Lower back pain is often a sign that your lumbar vertebrae have been compromised and are misaligned from trying to support too much weight. A visit to the chiropractor, as well as stretching and performing back exercises, can help decrease lower back pain by realigning your spine and building muscle for additional support.
L1 & L2
Your spinal cord doesn’t run down the entire length of your spine. At the L1 and L2 vertebrae, the nerves split out and travel through the lower half of your body. This means that the rest of the lumbar spine can support weight without the potential to damage the entire spinal cord.
The nerves in the L1 and L2 region of the spine travel to the lower back, the groin, and the upper leg.
L3, L4 & L5
While the spinal cord doesn’t extend down the entire length of the spine, there are still nerves that branch out from these lower vertebrae.
These nerves travel down the lower back, the side of the legs, and down the front of the legs. L4 and L5 nerves even travel all the way down the foot to your great and second toe. If you’re experiencing chronic leg cramps, it could be a misalignment in these vertebrae. A chiropractor can help realign these vertebrae to eliminate pain and leg cramping.
The Anatomy of the Sacral Spine
Below your lumbar spine is your sacral spine, which connects to your pelvic bones. The sacral spine is made up of two sections of fused bones that help support your spine and attach muscles and nerves to the lower half of your body. While these bones are fused, a chiropractor can still use techniques to adjust them and and massage the muscles around them to help relieve pain.
When you’re born, your sacrum consists of five bones that fuse together by the time you’re an adult. They’re referred to as S1 through S5 and can be sectioned out similarly to the other vertebrae in your spine.
The nerves that branch out from the sacrum travel down the back of the leg to the outside of the foot, as well as along the inside of the leg and in the buttocks.
The sacrum forms the base of your spinal column and helps support the spinal sections above them.
Your coccyx is also a fusion of four bones that connect to the bottom of your sacrum. The coccyx is where tendons, ligaments, and muscles connect to the lower part of your body.
The coccyx also serves as a way to stabilize your body while you’re sitting. If you feel pain or discomfort while sitting, it could be an issue with the alignment of your coccyx and sacral spine. Visiting a chiropractor can help you determine the cause and develop a treatment plan to relieve this pain.
The Importance of the Lumbar and Sacral Spine
The lumbar and sacral spine make up the lower half of the spinal column to support the weight of your body and help your lower body function properly. The nerves that extend from this part of the spine communicate with organs and parts of the body, such as:
- The large intestines and inguinal rings
- The upper legs, knees, lower legs, ankles, and feet
- Sex organs, as well as the uterus (in women)
- Prostate gland (in men)
- The sciatic nerve and the lower back
- Hip bones, buttocks, rectum, and anus
A misaligned lumbar or sacral spine can lead to digestive issues, sciatica, incontinence, impotency, and a variety of other health issues because of compromised nerve signals.
Why Does Seeing a Chiropractor Matter?
It may seem surprising, but a lot of issues with your lower body could be caused by a misalignment in your spine. When you visit a doctor, they may be able to prescribe medication to treat the symptoms, but a chiropractor can treat the cause.
If you’re experiencing poor circulation, chronic leg cramps, frequent back pain, or other issues in your lower body, it’s worth your while to visit a chiropractor. Contact Senara Health and Healing Center & Spa in Peoria to schedule your consultation today.