What Is L5 and S1 Nerve Root Impingement?

Impingement of a nerve between the L5 and S1 vertebrae indicates the structure is placing pressure on the nerve root. According to the Laser Spine Institute, this is one of the most common of all pinched nerves.

This nerve root feeds the sciatic nerve, and impingement has the potential to affect the lower buttocks, legs and feet. The Laser Spine Institute lists sciatica symptoms as pain, numbness, tingling and burning. In severe cases, sciatica causes muscle weakness.

Removal of the cause of impingement is one of the most effective treatments, according to Reference.com. Ninety percent of cases heal naturally with supportive therapy when the underlying cause is lumbar disc herniation. Supportive therapy includes several options, such as acupuncture, chiropractics, tricyclic antidepressants, pain medication, physical therapy and surgery. There are also minimally invasive surgical options available.

WebMD indicates the pain is debilitating in some patients and infrequent and irritating for others. Infrequent pain has the potential to become worse. It is recommended that patients seek immediate attention if the lower extremities become progressively weaker, there is numbness in the upper thigh or the individual suffers loss of bowel or bladder control. Potential causes of impingement include narrowing of the spinal canal in one’s lower back, degenerative disc disease and pregnancy. Lifestyle choices such as avoiding exercise, being overweight and wearing heels often make the pain from this condition worse, according to WebMD.