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Understanding Your Lumbar and Sacral Spine

Your lower back is made up of two regions of your spine: the lumbar and sacral spine. Both these sections of your spine serve different purposes to help you move easily through the day. 

The thoracic spine is made up of 12 vertebrae, which provide stability to support the neck, rib cage and lower back. The thoracic spine also protects the blood vessels and nerves that run along the spinal cord. The middle back also helps anchor the rib cage, which protects the heart, lungs and other internal organs.

What is the Lumbar Spine?

The lumbar spine is the section of your back that’s commonly referred to as your lower back. It includes five vertebra that run from the rib cage to the sacral spine. Your lower back carries much of the weight of your body and provides stability and flexibility you need to move throughout the day. 

The lumbar spine has a natural curve inward, called a lordosis. This allows the spine to safely bear weight and twist and turn safely. 

What is the Sacral Spine?

The sacral spine, also called the sacrum region, is the portion of your spine between your lower back and tailbone. It is a triangular-shaped bone that includes five vertebra that are fused together. The sacrum is part of the pelvic region, forming the back wall of the pelvis and connecting the hip joints through the sacroiliac joints. 

Back pain and leg pain (sciatica) are common symptoms of an injury where the lumbar and sacral spine connects. This region is particularly sensitive as many physical activities, (running, gymnastics or basketball, etc.) and everyday activities (sitting for long periods of time) place much of the bodies weight on this portion of your lower back.

Diagnosing Lumbar and Sacral Spine Pain

Lower back pain, injuries and conditions can range from mild discomfort to serious medical emergencies that require immediate attention. If you have low back pain that doesn’t improve with self-care at home or you are experiencing serious pain that interferes with daily activities.