An X-ray of the lumbar spine is a safe and painless test to visualise the area of the lower back which includes the lumbar vertebral bones (L1 to L5), their intervertebral discs and the surrounding soft tissues like muscles using small amount of radiation. The image is recorded on a special X-ray film. The X-ray image is black and white. Dense structures such as the bones, appear white and softer body tissues, such as the skin and muscles appear darker. The actual exposure time to radiation is usually less than a second, although the overall test may take 20-30 minutes.