Spondylosis, which is general degeneration of the spine, at the junction of the L5 and S1 vertebrae is a common place for deterioration of cartilaginous anatomy, like the intervertebral discs and facet joints, to occur. The abbreviations L5 and S1 refer to the last vertebra of the lumbar spine (lower back) and the first vertebra of the sacral spine (right above the tailbone).
It is important to keep in mind that spondylosis itself is not a diagnosis or the cause of lower back pain. Rather, spinal weakening that comes with spondylosis can lead to conditions like facet disease and degenerative disc disease, which can manifest as ruptured discs, disc protrusions, bone spurs, spondylolisthesis, or spinal stenosis.
Sciatica and Its Connection to Spondylosis
When spondylosis leads to spinal abnormalities around the L5 and S1 vertebrae, the sciatic nerve can experience compression. The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the entire body and it innervates the buttocks, hip joints, legs, feet, and toes. Compression of this nerve gives rise to radicular pain that can travel through all of these regions. Sciatica symptoms include:
Conservative Treatments for Spondylosis at L5
While treatment does not focus on spondylosis in general, it will focus on the specific source of neural compression. Most joint or disc problems will heal themselves over a period of months or weeks with nonsurgical treatment methods, so work with your physician to design a multidisciplinary plan that works for you. He or she may suggest hot therapy, cold therapy, physical therapy, aquatic therapy, or pain medication to address spondylosis.
Only a small percentage of individuals afflicted with neural compression require surgery to achieve pain relief. If you fall into this category, you should know that open spine operations like fusion or disc replacement are not your only options. Laser Spine Institute offers a variety of minimally invasive decompression procedures for spondylosis patients that utilize safe, effective endoscopic technology. Contact us today for a free review of your MRI or CT scan.