L5-S1 disc herniation causes, symptoms and treatments

A herniated disc between the last vertebra in the lumbar (lower) region of the spine and the sacrum is called an L5-S1 disc herniation. The lumbar spine has five vertebrae, labeled L1 to L5, and the sacrum is a triangular-shaped bone at the base of the spine between the two hip bones. The sacrum connects to the tailbone below and the lumbar spine above, which is one of the more common locations for a herniated disc since the lower back is responsible for supporting the majority of a person’s weight. Read on to learn about the causes, symptoms and treatment options for a L5-S1 disc herniation.

Causes of an L5-S1 disc herniation

A disc herniates at a certain degree when its exterior, referred to as the annulus fibrosus, tears allowing the soft interior, known as the nucleus pulposus, to push out of the disc space. Herniated discs typically occur as a result of the continued strain that is placed on a person’s back, which can cause discs in the spine to break down or degenerate. This typically happens as a person ages, but certain activities, such as continual heavy lifting and long-term participation in high-impact sports, can cause discs to degenerate in relatively young patients as well.

Symptoms of an L5-S1 disc herniation

Herniated discs can cause patients to experience pain, numbness, tingling, weakness or soreness in the affected area of the neck or back. When a disc herniates between the lumbar spine and the sacrum, pain may be felt in the lower back, buttocks and hips. Pain can sometimes worsen during periods of activity, while sitting or when coughing or sneezing.

An L5-S1 herniated disc can cause a serious condition called cauda equina syndrome. This syndrome causes pressure and swelling on the nerves in the spinal cord and can lead to the possibility of permanent paralysis and even fatality in severe cases. Patients who experience changes in bladder or bowel function should receive immediate medical attention.

Treatment of an L5-S1 disc herniation

An L5-S1 disc herniation can affect a patient’s quality of life, but it doesn’t have to. There are a variety of treatment options that may be recommended by a doctor to improve L5-S1 disc herniation symptoms over a short period of time, through conservative treatments like anti-inflammatories, chiropractic visits, physical therapy, acupuncture and epidural steroids. If these nonsurgical therapies do not allow the body to shrink and heal on its own after several weeks or months, surgery may become necessary. Laser Spine Institute offers a number of minimally invasive procedures to treat spinal conditions.

Our board-certified surgeons+ are able to use a less than 1-inch incision and muscle-sparing techniques to access the spinal canal and removed the herniated portion of the L5-S1 disc in order to free up the pinched nerve and provide lasting relief from the debilitating symptoms. Contact Laser Spine Institute with any questions or concerns regarding your condition or our outpatient procedures. We are here to help guide you through your journey to wellness.

Since 2005, the advanced procedures that Laser Spine Institute offers have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from their chronic neck or back conditions like an L5-S1 disc herniation. We are pleased to offer a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery that can help you get back to the activities you love.