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Lumbar Vertebrae
Skeletal System

Lumbar Vertebrae

Vertebrae lumbales

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Description

The lumbar vertebrae are one of the five regional groups of the vertebral column. They are found along the posterior aspect of the abdomen and are located between the thoracic vertebrae and sacrum. There are five lumbar vertebrae, which become progressively larger and are numbered one to five from superior to inferior. This progressive increase in size is necessary to support the progressive increase in body weight that is placed on each successive vertebra. The lumbar vertebrae are unfused and articulate with adjacent vertebrae via:

- intervertebral discs, forming intervertebral symphysis joints;

- articular facets, forming zygapophyseal joints.

The general characteristic features of lumbar vertebrae include:

- vertebral bodies that are large and appear kidney-shaped when viewed from above;

- vertebral foramina that appear triangular when viewed from above;

- spinous processes that are short, thick, and horizontally oriented;

- transverse processes that are long, thin, blunt, and consist of accessory processes;

- superior articular processes that consist of mammillary processes and posteromedially facing articular facets;

- inferior articular processes that consist of anterolaterally facing articular facets.

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List of Clinical Correlates

- Excessive lumbar lordosis/sway back

- Fracture

- Osteoporosis

- Spinal stenosis

- Intervertebral disc herniation

- Scoliosis

- Spondylosis

- Spondylolisthesis

- Spondylolysis

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