Lumbar spine and sciatica

Lumbar spine and sciatica

The lumbar spine consists of 5 vertebrae (L1-L5) and are the largest and strongest vertebrae in the spine and support the majority of the weight of the upper body. The nerves exiting the lumbar spine control and coordinate some of the largest and strongest muscles in the body, muscles from the back, core buttocks and legs. The nerves also control the function of many organs including the reproductive organs, colon, large intestine, bladder and prostate gland.

The largest and thickest nerve in the body is called the sciatic nerve and is formed by the union of the nerve roots exiting from the 5 lumbar vertebrae and passes down the back of the leg all the way to the sole of the foot. When this nerve is compressed and interfered with, it is termed sciatica and can cause pain anywhere from the lower back, the back of the thigh and calf or bottom of the foot. Depending on the degree of the nerve interference depends on the severity of the pain and can vary from a mild ache to a sharp, burning pain.
In addition to pain, because nerves that exit from lower back control various organs of the body, nerve pressure can manifest itself through problems like constipation, incontinence, infertility, leg edema or leg swelling, urinary problems, erectile dysfunction, menstrual problems, and more.

These symptoms can develop because of misalignments in the lumbar spine, disc degeneration, a bulging/protruding disc or even osteoarthritis. It is vitally important that we maintain the health of our lumbar spine to avoid these problems from developing.

Maintaining a strong core ensures support and stabilises the lumbar spine. If our core is strong is means we are less prone to injuring our lower back. Practicing proper posture and exercises are ways of improving our core strength.

Low back pain is one of the main symptoms people come to seek chiropractic care and correcting these problems something chiropractors do on a daily basis. Regular chiropractic care is a proactive way of avoiding these problems and ensures optimal lumbar spine health.

If you have any concerns about your low back or are experience symptoms similar to the ones mentioned above, please book in a complementary in-house spinal screening with one of our chiropractors to see if we can help.