L5 – S1 spondylosis refers to age-related spinal degeneration in the lower back that has occurred at the last lumbar vertebra and the naturally fused sacrum segment, an area that is commonly referred to as the lumbosacral section of the spine. This is an extremely common area for degenerative problems to arise because the lower back is not only forced to support most of the body’s weight, but it is also relatively flexible and must facilitate a variety of flexion, extension and twisting movements.
How are leg pain and spondylosis connected?
At first, it may seem strange to think that leg pain and L5-S1 spondylosis are connected. However, spondylosis may lead to the onset of several different conditions, such as bulging discs, herniated discs, enlarged arthritic joints or bone spurs. These damaged anatomical elements are a problem because they can protrude into the spinal canal and put pressure on nearby nerves, the largest of which is the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve controls motor and sensory function to the skin and muscles of the buttocks and legs and “sciatica” is a term used colloquially to describe symptoms of tingling, pain and numbness that radiate through these regions.
If you suspect that age-related spinal degeneration is causing your discomfort, you should make an appointment with your physician. He or she will need to discuss your case with you and look a little more closely at your situation to determine the exact causes of your lower back and leg pain by doing a series of diagnostic exams, including:
- Physical exam – discussion of symptoms; palpation; visual exam for abnormal curvature; gait exam to check for coordination and range of motion
- Imaging – MRI or CT scan to determine the exact level of the spine at which degeneration may be occurring
- Medical history – personal history and family history; discussion of current medications and past illnesses and surgical procedures
Most cases of pain, stiffness and nerve compression caused by degenerative spine conditions can be managed non-surgically with treatments like yoga, physical therapy, massage, analgesics, anti-inflammatory drugs, behavior modification or nerve block injections. If weeks or months of this conservative approach do not offer you lasting pain relief, your physician may suggest that you consider surgery. Before committing to a highly invasive open spine operation, contact Laser Spine Institute. As the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery we offer outpatient procedures that are highly effective. Contact us today to request a review of your MRI or CT scan.