L5 – S1 spondylosis refers to spinal degeneration that has occurred at the last lumbar (lower back) vertebra and the first sacral (sacrum) vertebra, an area 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, as it 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 in the lower back are connected. However, spondylosis can lead to several conditions, such as facet disease and degenerative disc disease, which can produce spinal abnormalities like a bulging disc, prolapsed disc, or bone spurs. These damaged anatomical elements 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 to describe symptoms of tingling, pain, and numbness that radiate through these regions.
If your physician suspects that you have a degenerative spine, he or she will need 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
- Medical history – personal history and family history; discussion of current medications and past illnesses and surgical procedures
- Imaging – MRI or CT scan to determine the exact level of the spine at which neural compression is occurring
Most cases of neural compression caused by degenerative spine conditions can be managed non-surgically with treatments like yoga, massage, physical therapy, 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 deciding on a highly invasive open spine operation, contact the experts at Laser Spine Institute. As the Leader in Endoscopic Spine Surgery™ we offer minimally invasive, outpatient procedures that are safe and effective. Call or email us today to request a free review of your MRI or CT scan.