The spine consists of 33 bones, each of which is called vertebrae. These are divided into five regions consisting of the cervical spine, thoracic spine, lumbar spine, sacrum, and coccyx. Five or six vertebrae make up the lumbar spine, and it supports most of the upper body and is very flexible. The third lumbar spine vertebrae (L3) are located in the middle of the lumbar spine, making them particularly susceptible to wear and tear. It is one of the most common sites for causes of chronic lower back pain. Vertebrae, along with the discs in between them, provide protection for the spinal cord and nerves that run through them. At L1 level, the true spinal cord ends, dividing into nerves called the cauda equina, which run to the lower body and extremities. Age and posture may aggravate common problems with the third lumbar spine vertebrae (L3), such as ligament or muscle strain. Less common problems are osteoarthritis or disc hernias. Whilst many symptoms can be alleviated with medication or physiotherapy, surgery or other endoscopic techniques may be an option for chronic back pain.
Written and medically reviewed by the Healthline Editorial Team
In Depth: L3