What Is an L5 S1 Disc Protrusion?

A spinal disk protrusion is often referred to as a herniated or slipped disk and, when it occurs to the L5-S1 disk, it can cause leg and lower back pain, according to Spine-health. The inner portion of a herniated disk leaks out, or protrudes, putting pressure on the nerve root. Although it can be extremely painful, the condition rarely causes permanent damage or paralysis as there is no spinal cord in the L5-S1 area of the lumbar spine.

Pain from a herniated disk can be attributed either to the disk itself, known as axial pain, or to the pinched nerve resulting from the protrusion, states Spine-health. Pain from the protrusion is known as radicular pain and often radiates to other areas of the body, including the outer extremities, arms and legs. The condition is commonly known as sciatica when pinched nerves cause leg pain.

Herniated disk pain occurs most frequently in the lumbar spine which absorbs most of the day-to-day force and torque of regular activity, explains Spine-health. Medications, injections and physical therapy are used to treat pain in the L5-S1 area; however, there are surgical options if the source of pain is determined to be the disk itself. In those cases a microdiscectomy is performed in order to remove the herniated portion of the disk.