L1- L5 disc protrusion
A common source of lower back pain is an L1-L5 disc protrusion, which is a disc protrusion that occurs between the first and fifth vertebra in the lumbar spine (lower back). A disc protrusion develops when a disc in the spine flattens under the pressure of the vertebrae and expands (or protrudes) into the spinal canal.
Disc protrusion in the lumbar spine is particularly common because of the flexibility in and weight burden placed on the lower back. Not only is the lumbar spine responsible for allowing the body to bend and move, but it also supports most of the body’s weight. These two factors can lead to the development of an L1-L5 disc protrusion.
Causes of an L1-L5 disc protrusion
In a healthy, well-functioning spine, the vertebrae in the lumbar region are cushioned by soft, spongy discs that absorb everyday pressures and movements. After years of being compressed with weight gain and repetitive motion, the discs may eventually weaken and bulge out, or protrude, into the spinal canal.
Discs also undergo degenerative changes with the natural aging process of the spine, such as dehydration and a loss of elasticity in the disc’s tough outer layer. These changes make them more susceptible to injury.
Common symptoms of an L1-L5 disc protrusion
When discs in the lower back begin to bulge or protrude, they may come into contact with a neighboring nerve root or the spinal cord, causing back pain and other nerve-related symptoms — known as radiculopathy — in the lower body.
Common symptoms of L1-L5 disc protrusion can include:
- Pain or stiffness in lower back
- Sciatica (traveling pain and numbness along the sciatic nerve)
- Incontinence (seek emergency medical help)
- Muscle weakness
- Pain, numbness and tingling in the legs and feet
Treatment for an L1-L5 disc protrusion
Before you can begin treatment, you must confirm the cause of your pain with your doctor. Your doctor will likely perform an imaging test, like an MRI or CT scan, to gain an accurate view of your spine in order to properly diagnose your condition. Once diagnosed, a lumbar disc protrusion often can be treated with physical therapy, pain medication and other conservative pain management techniques.
In some instances, patients may not respond to conservative disc protrusion treatment. If this is your situation, you should look into the minimally invasive spine surgery performed at Laser Spine Institute. Our procedures are an alternative to traditional open back surgery with many advantages that often make them the clinically appropriate first choice between the two.
We specialize in minimally invasive, outpatient spine surgery used to treat common spine conditions. To relieve pressure on the pinched nerve in the L1-L5 area, our surgeons can remove a portion of the damaged disc causing the nerve compression.
Contact us today for your no-cost MRI review* to find out if you are a candidate for one of our procedures. We can help you take the next step toward pain relief. Call us today.