Rare But Not Of Concern

So, the whole sixth lum­bar ver­te­bra has kind of been of inter­est to me. I did some online search­ing and found an inter­est­ing arti­cle which explains the abnor­mal­i­ty some:

[A]pproximately 10% of adults, have a con­gen­i­tal anom­aly in their low­er back. One of the most com­mon anom­alies is the pres­ence of a sixth lum­bar ver­te­bra. Hav­ing one extra lum­bar ver­te­bra pro­vides no advan­tage or dis­ad­van­tage to the indi­vid­ual and is rarely a cause of back prob­lems… [A]nomalies such as these in the lum­bar spine and sacral spine are sim­ply vari­ants of nor­mal bony archi­tec­ture and are typ­i­cal­ly of no con­se­quence. In oth­er words, it would be very rare for an abnor­mal­i­ty such as a sixth lum­bar ver­te­bra or extra bone in the sacrum to cause back prob­lems.

I’ll file this under “I found it on the inter­net so there­fore it must be true.” My doc­tor indi­cat­ed that mine was­n’t of con­cern since every­thing was all aligned. I did­n’t ask what hap­pens if it isn’t as I was afraid what the answer might be.

It would also appear that the cor­rect term for this “L6” bone is Lum­bosacral tran­si­tion­al ver­te­bra.

Now this com­ment was par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ing to me:

You may be inter­est­ed to find that while the homo sapi­en is char­ac­ter­ized by hav­ing five lum­bar ver­te­bra but homo erec­tus (the first of the human skele­tons found in Africa, includ­ing Lucy and aus­tralo­p­ithe­cus africanus skele­tons) typ­i­cal­ly had 6 lum­bar ver­te­bra.

Some­thing I was at least able to par­tial­ly cor­rob­o­rate here. Now, before you decide to start pok­ing fun at me for being less evolved than you, keep in mind that mod­ern great apes have only three or four lum­bar ver­te­brae. It’s all rel­a­tive.

43 thoughts on “Rare But Not Of Concern”

  1. Per­haps you could view #6 as a spare or per­haps as a 6th degree of free­dom. In any case be fore­warned I am like­ly to refer to you as mod­ern day aus­tralo­p­ithe­cus. Good stuff.

  2. Well, I can say that Dad does­n’t have this one. I may be the only one with this retro-muta­tion (if that’s what it real­ly is…). The links above also indi­cate that it’s par­tic­u­lar­ly rare in Euro­peans (more com­mon in Abo­rig­i­nal Aus­tralians, for exam­ple).

  3. foloow­ing a MRI scan I have been told I have a extra lum­bar at the base(6th lum­bar vertabrae). I had the scan to see why my peliv­is keep mov­ing and casu­ing me pain and infla­ma­tion. My Osteopath has to keep putting me back in palce! . It has some­thing to do with the extra vertabrae in some ways as the sacro joint isnt sup­port­ing my pelvis as good as it should( we think) any­one else got this prob­lem.

  4. Hey, i recent­ly found out i have an extra lum­bar ver­te­brae, have been in all sorts of agony which sent me to the doc­tor. I’m a lit­tle con­fused though because every­thing I have found on the inter­net about this says hav­ing the extra ver­te­brae does­n’t cause any prob­lems or pain, I know its the inter­net and not reli­able but come on, you’d think one per­son would put some­thing up about it.

  5. ok, i’ve had 3 back surg­eries with con­se­quent­ly mul­ti­ple MRI’s… I just found out i have 6 lum­bar ver­te­brae on a sim­ple x‑ray… i find it odd that i’ve been sliced on, had lots of images, and no one has con­sid­ered it impor­tant enough to men­tion the extra lum­bar. in fact, it keeps get­ting referred to as L5-S1 on MRI’s in the past and oper­a­tive reports. What is the DEAL??? If they “doc­tor” this orig­i­nal­ly dic­tat­ed report I had a “friend” read to me before I see the sur­geon next week, I’m gonna be MORE sus­pi­cious than I am now. I read where some of my reports had been “changed.” I don’t care what peo­ple say, I’ve had horen­dous back prob­lems all my life. It war­rents more inves­ti­gat­ing, back prob­lems and an extra lum­bar ver­te­brae com­bined with hard work may in deed be a bad com­bi­na­tion.

  6. I have a 6th Lum­bar ver­te­brae, which is a true ver­te­brae. I have seen my own xrays and had my doc­tor and neu­ro­sur­geon explain my own xrays to me. The 6th ver­te­brae is fused to my spine with no disc between it and my sacrum, but it is fused slight­ly crooked, which has caused extra pres­sure on my L4/L5 and oth­er ver­te­brae and discs. I have had back pain most of my adult life. about 6 years ago, my L4/L5 disc rup­tured severe­ly into my spinal canal, requir­ing emer­gency surgery (a par­tial laminec­to­my). I have recoverd excep­tion­al­ly well con­sid­er­ing the sever­i­ty of the rup­ture, with only occa­sion­al tin­gling or numb­ness in my left leg and foot if I do too much stren­u­ous activ­i­ty. I was told that this was most like­ly due to the fact that the nerves were not impinged for very long between the rup­ture and the surgery (only about 12 hours went by), so the dam­age was min­i­mal. The longer nerves are pinched with­out relief, the more severe and per­ma­nent the dam­age is like­ly to be. For this rea­son, I some­times dis­agree with a doc­tor’s deci­sion to put their patients on bed rest, trac­tion, pain meds, mus­cle relaxants…just to “see” if the prob­lem goes away on its own…without order­ing xrays or an MRI to deter­mine the sever­i­ty of the pinched nerves. It may “go away on its own” in many cas­es, but in the event it does not, by the time they deter­mine that, the nerves have most like­ly been dam­aged more severe­ly, and com­plete recov­ery may no longer be pos­si­ble. From per­son­al expe­ri­ence: Be sure to get more than one oppin­ion, and don’t mess around and wait too long to get treat­ment or surgery if nec­es­sary. Its your health and your body, so you can request that your doc­tor order the xrays and MRI soon­er than lat­er. Pre­ven­tion is always bet­ter than cure, so don’t wait until your disc rup­tures!

  7. i have had a series of back problems,first i broke L1-L4 process­es off.…fixed it.…4 yrs lat­er start­ed hav­ing ter­ri­ble back pain, found a L6 and my L5 is seper­at­ed, said it was a birth defect.….is your L5 nor­mal? do you have any pain with sim­ple walk­ing, clean­ing, shopping…that sort of stuff? docs say surgery might help, but they would be fus­ing L6 with it L5 and L4.…everyone i know advis­es against surgery cuz they still have back pain and theirs was for a slip disc.…not the same thing in my eyes…not sure what to do but i am going crazy with all the back pain

  8. Wow. I guess it is appar­ent what can be the case if a sixth ver­te­brae is not in align­ment with the rest of one’s spine.

    Low­er back pain is remark­ably com­mon in humans; most like­ly result­ing from our rel­a­tive­ly recent deci­sion to go it on just our hind legs. It sounds like a lot of peo­ple in are in a great deal of pain which is pos­si­bly linked to the pres­ence (and mis-align­ment of) an extra ver­te­brae.

    I am quite for­tu­nate in that mine caus­es me no prob­lems and I would have nev­er known of such a thing except for the her­ni­at­ed L5‑S disc in my back, for which I got an MRI. As a mat­ter of fact, even the pain sig­nals from my sci­at­ic nerve have ceased in the past 10 months (this is main­ly a result of run­ning less, there­fore less of the disc press­ing into the nerve).

    I hon­est­ly don’t know what else to say to any save for pro­vid­ing my sym­pa­thy. I’ve had just enough back and nerve pain to know how hard it can be to live with. Find­ing the right Ortho­pe­dist to diag­nose (I high­ly rec­om­mend sports med­i­cine docs) and the pos­si­bly a good neu­ro­sur­geon to oper­ate (I believe they’re bet­ter equipped for spinal surgery than ortho­pe­dic sur­geons) is essen­tial­ly the only advice I can give.

  9. I have alot of back pain and have been see­ing a chi­ro­prac­tor for 25+ years. While most of the prob­lems are well con­trolled my low­er back pain has been get­ting pro­gres­sive­ly worse. It usu­al­ly occurs as a dull ache across both hips, worse when stand­ing or lying down for long peri­ods. My chi­ro told me years of bad pos­ture have caught up with me. Recent X‑Ray showed 6th Lum­ber vert­ibrae is not fused and is mobile. The issue for me has been this extra joint has allowed my hips to rotate fur­ther for­ward exag­ger­at­ing the curve in my low­er back and putting extra pres­sure on the low­er joints. Advice from the chi­ro was lose weight and exer­cise abs to help rotate my hips back to a more nor­mal posi­tion. I now do abs exer­cis­es most morn­ings (eg 30 situps and 30 leg rais­es, or 100 alter­nat­ing elbow to knee leg rais­es). This has dra­mat­i­cal­ly reduced my pain. I am now 47 and after 2 years of abs work I have been able to resume full on karate train­ing. I only get pain now if I get slack and skip the morn­ing exer­cis­es.

  10. I have spina bifi­da occul­ta of s1, plus an add’l true lum­bar ver­te­brae. Have been in excru­ci­at­ing pain for over 10 yrs. Dr’s have done lit­tle to noth­ing, except pre­scribe nar­cotics. Now on mor­phine patch, neu­ron­ton, and vici­don I have l4-l5 nerve root impinge­ment with foram­i­nal space nar­row­ing. sit­ting, stand­ing in 1 place, dri­ving, walk­ing long dis­tances, bend­ing, all cause severe pain. Can any­one advise? Only 35, with 2 very active chil­dren, that I can bare­ly take care of, they do more tak­ing care of me! I just want my life back.

  11. 6th lum­bar ver­te­bra noth­ing to wor­ry about I DON’T THINK SO
    I was diag­nosed with a 6th lum­bar ver­te­bra in 1975 after I went to the doc­tor with back pain and being bae­ly able to walk. He said it was an imfla­ma­tion of the 6th with the sacrum. We cured it this time with some rest and anti infla­ma­tents. He then gave me some excer­cis­es which I have been doing ever since. I had one oth­er bad flare up a cou­ple years after and I real­ized I was doing the same type of work that I had been doing in 75 I was paint­ing over­head on a lad­der and torquing my upper body. I have been care­ful ever since and have not had a reoc­cur­ance even though I had to have a lamenec­to­my some 8 years lat­er due to a explod­ed disk.
    I am now 77 and still do the orig­i­nal back exer­cis­es that I was giv­en in 1975 at least 3 times a week and wear an elas­tic back brace when­ev­er I have to do any lift­ing or work­ing stooped. over.

  12. In July I was in a roll over car acci­dent that has left me with con­stant neck, shoul­der and low back pain. I have had x‑rays twice and an MRI of my neck and back. Until todays appoint­ment with the Ortho where he re-did my x‑rays, no one had ever both­ered to men­tion the sixth lum­bar vert. I was con­fused by this because he said that it was uncom­mon and prob­a­bly a cause of my low back pain. After read­ing many arti­cles, every­thing says that it is not a rea­son for back pain, and 10% of adults is not uncom­mon with the bil­lions of adults walk­ing around. That fig­ures since I have nev­er had prob­lems with my back before get­ting t‑boned and rolled by an 81 year old in an Envoy( FYI: I was in a Sub­ur­ban)!! I think that any doc­tor will hold infor­ma­tion or stretch it to make you either feel bet­ter or spend more mon­ey with them. It does­n’t real­ly mat­ter how many verts you have when you have an injury like mine. What mat­ters is get­ting it fixed and get­ting back to nor­mal. :)

  13. I also have just dis­cov­ered that I have a 6th lum­bar ver­te­bra. I agree, I ques­tion the fact that peo­ple claim that it caus­es no pain in the low­er back, but it seems when­ev­er i bend over for a cou­ple min­utes, when i come back to stand­ing up straight, i feel as though my spine has “locked” or isnt going back right. who knows, i may be con­fus­ing this with some oth­er symp­tom since i have many oth­er things wrong with my spine and neck. i have 6 months of align­ments with my chi­ro­prac­tor, so we’ll see what hap­pens.

    My big ques­tion with this 6th lum­bar ver­te­bra is this:
    All ver­te­bra have nerves com­ing out of them which con­trol cer­tain parts of your body, right? Well, my chi­ro­prac­tor said that my 6th lum­bar ver­te­bra should have a pair of nerves as well, leav­ing me with a so called “extra set”. The ques­tion is, what do these nerves lead to/control?
    Pret­ty inter­est­ing, huh?

  14. And i thought i was a freak, although i did think it was neat, i too was diag­nosed by my 2nd chy­ro­prac­tor with the L6, y not the first one? IDK, or y not the mri’s i’ve had in the past. I am just reliev­id to know y i wake up with lowe r back pain every­day. Fun­ny thing is, it was my hips that brought me to the chy­ro. Mine is also fused to the sacrum, wich to explanes y i have a problen sit­ting for long peri­ods of time, it realy makes my butt hurt, the cox­ic bone! Espe­cialy hard sur­faces. I ques­tioned both my par­ents to c wich one of them was the cul­prit, nei­ther of them ever heard of it nor have it. Well i decid­ed to take my 16 year old daugh­ter to the chryo for migranes, after the rou­tine exam and e‑rays, she too has a 6th lum­bar, myth bust­ed, in our case it is hered­i­tary, and her’s has spin­ab­i­fi­da acul­ta, it looks like ribs, its not ful­ly formed, and her sacrum is unusu­al­ly large and shaped like a heart not a triangle.…she has butt and low back issues too.. wait it gets bet­ter, my sis­ter has a but­ter­fly vertabre, two fused togeth­er, and scoaliosis…so that again busts the “its not genet­ic myth”. by the way dont mind my spelling!! Its nice to know there are oth­ers, lol! Ask in ur fam­i­lies, c wut oth­er peo­ple have!!!

  15. I have a 6th lum­bar ver­te­brae. I have known about it since I was 17. I have severe low­er back pain. I have been try­ing to find out the cause since 2001. Every dr I see tells me about the extra ver­te­brae but none have ever men­tioned the fus­ing prob­lem. i just had an MRI done yes­ter­day. I guess I am won­der­ing if I should have my dr pull the MRI out and look for fus­ing or if it would be eas­i­ly detect­ed on the MRI?

  16. My 16 year old son was just diag­nosed with hav­ing an extra lum­bar ver­te­brae. We were hav­ing an x‑ray due to a back strain in a foot­ball game. The ortho­pe­dist said he will have back prob­lems his whole life, and the x‑ray looked like a man in his 50’s with chron­ic back prob­lems. They sent him to phys­i­cal ther­a­py to learn some core strength­en­ing exer­cis­es, to relieve pain for the rest of his life.

  17. I was just told that I have a L6 as well. Nei­ther one of my par­ents have it…but that does­n’t mean it’s not hered­i­tary. It can be a reces­sive gene. We’re hop­ing to get my broth­er x‑rayed to see if he has it. Mine is not fused, but the chi­ro did said that I have more rota­tion in my hip area so it can cause prob­lems. My sacrum and pelvis ect is all well formed …every­thing looks like it should with just an extra L6. My sacrum is out of align­ment b/c of extra mobil­i­ty in that area. As a result, I tend to take it in and out of align­ment very eas­i­ly. My chrio told me that train­ing the prop­er mus­cles will keep it nice and healthy and I won’t have too much prob­lems, since she knows my per­son­al train­er, she said she’s gonna tell her what I need to work on. She also told me that most gym­nist and con­tor­tion­ist have the L6 as well.

  18. I was told a few days ago that I have the 6th lum­bar, I have had plen­ty of MRI’s since I have had low­er back pain most of my life, the gen­er­al pain runs down my left leg. As far I Know it’s not fused, but who knows I just found out I have one…Hmmmm, no one in my fam­i­ly has it that I know of, and the pain is worst at night, i go to the gym dai­ly and do yoga, which I find helps with the pain..Even tho it does explain some of the issues I have with my back, still think it’s kin­da cool..lol sor­ry..

  19. My son was diag­nosed today, after hav­ing severe pain in his back from wrestling, with a 6th lum­bar ver­te­brae and spina bifi­da and sco­l­io­sis. He’s 15. he has been able to do back hand­prings form the age of 2 1/2 and was doing aeri­als and back flips off of walls at 3. He was hurt when he was put up against a guy that weighed 20 pounds more than him and the cap­tain of the oppos­ing team (he was a senior) and our coach puts my fresh­man 15 yr old against him. he was taller and wrpped his legs around my sons then twist­ed his back while hav­ing him in a choke hold.….it was awful and yeas I have had my talk with this new coach. His back has killed him for two weeks and we took him to the chi­ro and it did­n’t help so I took him to the doc and found out the rest. He can’t wres­tle and has to wear a brace when work­ing out. I pray he won’t have pain the rest of his life. Does any­one know if the exposed nerved can be cov­ered over time as he con­tiues to grow?

  20. My Father has 6, as do my broth­ers, daugh­ters, son. When my wife was preg­nant test showed for Spina Bifid­da. I guess it per­haps showed a genet­ic abnor­mal­i­ty or some­thing? Any­way the dis­cov­ery of mine was after a back X‑ray. The Doc­tor read, looked and told me that I had 6 instead of the nor­mal 5. The Radi­ol­o­gist had it described as; Extra Lum­bar Ver­te­brae due to hypo-plas­tic T‑12 Rib. Sound com­pli­cat­ed?

  21. I am sur­prised. I have had back pain for 5 years now. how­ev­er 5 years ago I had arthroscopy done on both my knees( arthri­tis). Since then now my back has been a source of chron­ic pain. Since the knew surgery I can not bend with my knees like I used to. mind you i nev­er real­ly bent for­ward like most peo­ple. I do have a job that requires heavy lift­ing bend­ing, twist­ing etc.
    Today I found out from my GP( after final­ly get­ting an X‑ray) I have 6 lum­bar vertabrae. The doc­tor thought I knew, I did­n’t. Any­way after read­ing some of the posts here. Add me to the list. I do think hav­ing 6 can/could be the culper­at to all the pain. My first thoughts when I heard I had this was..Just anoth­er part to fall apart :(. I got put on celebrex…again. I find my pain hurts more after tak­ing a short rest after work­ing. Sleep­ing at night :P. I can get 2 hours of slight­ly rest­ful sleep in at a time. When I awake in the morning..I don’t feel rest­ed.. I hurt like hell.. it’s very hard to get up in the morn­ing. I find it dif­fi­cult to stand, sit or lie for any length of time. i have been know to lean against things and doze off. I am lit­er­al­ly tired of it all !

  22. The 6th ver­te­bra, or hav­ing what could be called a tail­bone, is asso­ci­at­ed with RH- in their blood, but oth­ers have said it is more rare in Euro­peans. As Euro­peans have a high­er inci­dence of RH‑, I am not sure what makes more sense. To com­pli­cate mat­ters, Euro­peans are from Nean­derthal genes, while African’s are tied to the homo Erec­tus, so if the extra lum­ber was from the Homo Erec­tus, then it should not be in those with European/Neanderthal hybrid blood as much, mean­ing those with RH-. So I’m guess­ing it is a myth about it being more in RH- folks, and may in fact be more in those with African in them. Can any­one ver­i­fy this?

    As for all those liv­ing with pain because of it, you may want to check this place out, or see if ones like it are near you. https://www.laserspineinstitute.com/back_problems/vertebrae/l6/

  23. I have had knee pain due to a car wreck 20 years ago and have limped that long as well. Now I hurt my back twice, went to a chi­ro­prac­tor for 2 Years and start­ed walk­ing straight and hav­ing less pain in my left foot and back. I hurt my back doing sim­ple tasks again. I decid­ed to have an X‑ray and they said I was born with abnor­mal hip devel­op­ment. So I had an ortho­pe­dic doc­tor look at X‑ray and he stat­ed I have an extra ver­te­brae and wants to do an MRI. Just been a roller coast­er ride! I am tired of the foot and shin pain and of course pain in my back and hips. Too young for all this pain. Please God help me.

  24. Thank you for you arti­cle. I have L6 inside of me. A few months back I had my DNA test­ed. Turns out I am in the high­est per­centile for nean­derthal DNA. I have always been nat­u­ral­ly strong and have found bro­ken bones to be more annoy­ing than some­thing to cry about. Also I was born with no low­er wis­dom teeth. The upper wis­dom teeth grew ‘down ’ nat­u­ral­ly when I was 35.… If that mat­ters for oth­er peo­ples com­par­i­son. At 44 I am strong as ever and still have not reached my peak.

  25. I was told of my L6 when i was 16 years old. I am now 38 and dis­abled from the L6 and the accom­pa­ny­ing degen­er­a­tive disc dis­or­der, sci­at­i­ca, and facet hyper­tro­phy. My back “went out” on me while i was at my last place of employ­ment and i could not walk unas­sist­ed for more than six months after­wards. I have been told i should have surgery and i do not think so. I have seen the results of back surgery first hand. I think some­one should do a study of peo­ple who have this “birth defect” to find out exact­ly how it effects us and how rare it actu­al­ly is.

  26. I would like to know; as this end­ed my career and I am still 25 yrs lat­er look­ing for answers. I had a Spinal Tap Pri­or to find­ing this infor­ma­tion out about #6 lum­bar. Can and would this,( if done at a high­er or Low­er lev­el because of 1 more lum­bar) with out the knowl­edge be the cause of mus­cle spasms, almost crip­pling; actu­al­ly putting me to the ground in pain?

  27. I have no 4th vertabrea lum­bar how rare is this? Nev­er knew it nev­er formed until I hurt my back Alli did was turn my waist to left and instant pain nev­er had a prob­lem with my back ever or since I then

  28. I googled the 6th ver­te­brae and found this site. I have a 6th and have had a fusion & a laminec­to­my. I have sco­l­io­sis and steno­sis. 5 bulging disc. Always in pain. In my opin­ion the 6th ver­te­brae makes my spine not as strong as it should be in that area. I don’t know if it’s nat­u­ral­ly fused or not. Going to have to see if any of my sib­lings know if they have the extra as well.

  29. I have an L6 as well except the wing of it man­aged to fuse itself to my sacrum. I get occa­sion­al pain in the dim­ple of my hip. Chi­ro says keep­ing my hips open and active will help.

    I also just had a DNA test done recent­ly for a study and found out I have above aver­age Nean­derthal traits. More than 76% of peo­ple who’s DNA they test­ed have less than me. Won­der­ing if that’s a con­nec­tion.

  30. Loren­da (cape town)
    Its very painfull and all my doc­tor told me was i must live on pain killers.…
    Rare or not you cant sit stand walk jump run or lay for long and to crown it all i must loose weight anoth­er mis­sion

  31. This is so inter­est­ing to me. I had polio as a young child before the vac­cine was avail­able (missed it by 7 months) so I had many X‑rays of my back. Yet no one ever men­tioned that I had an L‑6 ver­te­brae until I was in my 60’s and had an X‑ray to see the pro­gres­sion of my sco­l­io­sis. I have sco­l­io­sis from the mus­cles on one side being weak­ened by polio. It’s just inter­est­ing that some have sco­l­io­sis asso­ci­at­ed with hav­ing an L‑6.

  32. As far as sev­er­al of the write-ups say­ing “no big deal” on the L‑6, my chi­ro­prac­tor told me it’s like stack­ing a lego tow­er one more brick high­er than every­one else… and there­fore we have a hard­er time keep­ing good pos­ture. That leads to mis-align­ment and all kinds of prob­lems with my shoul­ders, neck, low­er back, etc. The “lego tow­er” made a lot of sense to me.

  33. I just stum­bled onto these com­ments. I also have the extra “cause no pain or prob­lem” ver­te­bra. I don’t believe a word of what I have read tonight online. First hand expe­ri­ence tells me the pain I have and feel are not in my head! It’s legit­i­mate and has been there my entire life. I can nev­er remem­ber a day in my life with­out back pain. I hon­est­ly thought it was nor­mal that every­one had pain like this. Until I was in tears t work one evening and talked with a co work­er who laughed and informed me not every­one expe­ri­enced pain like this.
    So i apol­o­gize if I offend­ed any one, but I’m here to tell you the “extra ver­te­bra” has caused me pain all my life.

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