Lumbar Muscles and Ligaments
A complicated system of ligaments and muscles serves to control movement, maintain posture, and support the lower back and pelvis. Ligaments are fibrous bands of soft tissue that attach a bone to another bone. The ligamentous system of the spine protects the intervertebral discs from injury, and prevents excessive movement of the spine The muscular system of the lower back is complex, and includes the deep erector spinae or paraspinal muscle groups that run parallel to the spine. In addition, there are larger and more superficial muscles that help to move and protect the lower back. The lower back and abdominal muscles work together with the ligaments to provide movement, stability, and postural support to the lower back and abdominal area. The larger superficial muscles and help move and stabilize the lower back. The deeper spinal muscles can be multi-segmental, connecting and attaching to more than one vertebra or muscles that support, stabilize and move one segment in relation to another.
When lumbar or spinal motion is pushed to the extreme, such as in a car accident or whiplash injury, these ligaments and muscles can be damaged. Ligament damage sprain and muscle damage strain can produce pain, soreness, loss of motion, and if severe enough, joint instability. Irritation or injury of the structures of the spine may produce spasm and pain of the muscles of the back and buttock area. One muscle that is often involved in back problems is the piriformis. It is located in the buttock area and may become painful, sore and go into spasm with nerve, disc, and lower back or sacroiliac joint irritation. Unfortunately, the sciatic nerve passes beneath the piriformis and can be compressed when the piriformis is irritated. This can cause symptoms that radiate into the legs. Injury to the lumbar spine causing weakness or tightness of the muscles or laxity of the ligaments of the low back can result in pain, decreased ability to maintain good posture, limitation in movement and instability of the back.