What Is L5-S1 Disc Disease?


Quick Answer

L5-S1 disc disease refers to a degenerative condition at the base of the spine that may cause pain in the lower back and legs, reports Spine-health. Degenerative disc disease is the breakdown of intervertebral discs that occurs as a natural part of aging, but injuries and certain activities and physical conditions can exacerbate it, states Medical News Today.

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Full Answer

The L5-S1 segment of the lumbar region is known as the lumbosacral joint, explains Spine-health. L5 is the lowest of the five vertebrae in the spine, and S1 is the first vertebra of the sacrum. The L5 nerve root runs through the spine into both legs, and impingement upon this nerve can provoke leg pain. When degenerative disc disease causes the padding between vertebrae to become less effective, the spine may become unstable and attempt to compensate by creating bone spurs that press upon nerve roots and cause pain, according to Medical News Today. Some people experiencing degenerative disc disease have no symptoms, while others experience debilitating pain.

Symptoms of degenerative disc disease may build gradually, but a minor or major injury may speed up the process, points out Medical News Today. The condition may progress more rapidly in people who are smokers, obese or do hard physical labor. Treatment may include weight loss, exercise, pain medications and wearing a brace. In extreme cases, surgery may relieve debilitating numbness, weakness and pain in the legs and back.

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