The L5 vertebra
The L5 vertebra is the lowest vertebra in the lumbar spine before the sacral spine begins. The lumbar spine is located in the lower back and is responsible for the support and flexibility of the upper body.
The disc situated between the L5 and L4 vertebrae is extremely vulnerable to degenerative conditions associated with normal wear and tear as we age. The reason for this vulnerability is that the joint formed by the L5 and L4 vertebrae is involved in a wide range of stress-inducing bending, twisting and other movement. This combination of flexibility and weight-related pressure places a great amount of stress on the L5 vertebra.
Among the nerves associated with this vertebra is the sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in the body. When the sciatic nerve is irritated or compressed at the L5 level, a patient can experience the following symptoms:
- Localized pain
- Radiating pain
- Muscle weakness
These symptoms can travel down the body to the front of the lower leg and foot. In addition, nerves that originate at the L5 level affect the muscles that allow us to wiggle our toes.
Spinal conditions affecting the L5
When the disc between the L4 and L5 vertebrae begins to wear down, it loses water content and elasticity. This can trigger the generation of bone spurs brought on as a result of degenerative disc disease or osteoarthritis, as well as a result of normal wear and tear.
This wear and tear on the lumbar spine can begin to place too much stress on this disc, causing the disc wall to weaken and bulge into the spinal canal, where it can come into contact with a nerve root or the spinal cord itself. A bulging disc between the lumbar vertebrae may not cause back pain, but when it does, the symptoms can be debilitating and extremely disruptive.
Treatment for L5 conditions
The best course of treatment for your spine condition will depend on your physician’s diagnosis, but, generally, pain medication, physical therapy and other conservative methods are effective at managing the symptoms associated with L5 conditions.
If this doesn’t prove true for you, a physician may recommend surgery as an option. Before you commit to traditional open back surgery, we encourage you to research the benefits and advantages of minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive procedures provide patients with a safer and more effective alternative to traditional open back surgery.
To treat a lumbar spine condition, we offer minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization surgeries. While most of our patients are recommended a minimally invasive decompression surgery, some patients may require a stabilization surgery to treat the damage in the lower back. Both types of procedures are performed through a small incision and do not require the muscles around the spine to be cut or torn. This care taken during surgery allows our patients to experience a shorter recovery time§ and lower risk of complication than patients who choose traditional open back surgery.
Let us help you on your journey to wellness by reviewing your MRI report or CT scan. We can determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery and provide you with the information you need to make a confident decision about your spine care. Contact Laser Spine Institute today.