If you have been through the process of diagnosing a spine condition, you may be overwhelmed by the amount of medical jargon used to describe a small portion of the spine. While this medical jargon may seem unimportant, you should be fully informed about all aspects of your condition through the following article so you can make an informed decision about your treatment.
The term “L5 to S1 annular tear” might sound like medical jargon, but it actually refers to a specific cause of lower back pain. An annular tear is a rip in the tough outer layer of the disc that helps it to maintain the proper space and cushion in between the vertebrae of the spine. Over time, the continual pressure of daily activities and weight gain can weaken the discs, sometimes causing the disc wall to form small tears and rips.
What does L5 to S1 means?
The first component of the term “L5 to S1 annular tear” is “L5 to S1.” These letters and numbers indicate the location of the damaged disc. The L5 refers to the fifth lumbar vertebra and the S1 indicates the first sacral vertebra. The lumbar spine is the portion of the spine that extends through the lower back, while the sacral spine is the portion of the spine that connects to the pelvis and forms the tailbone. Thus, the deteriorated disc is located between these two vertebrae in the lower back that connect the lumbar spine to the sacral spine.
Because the annular tear is located in the lower back, the symptoms may include:
- Pain in the lower back or lower extremities
- Weakness, numbness or tingling in the lower back, buttocks, legs or feet
- Limited mobility
- Loss of bladder or bowel control, which requires immediate medical attention
Treating an annular tear conservatively
An L5 to S1 annular tear is a very common condition and the symptoms of pain can often be treated successfully through a regimen of conservative techniques. Some examples of effective symptom remedies include:
- Low-impact exercises
- Stretching classes
- Deep massage
- Pain medication
- Muscle relaxants
- Hot and cold therapy
- Chiropractic care
- Epidural injections
Your doctor will help you find the best treatment option for your symptoms and condition. Because most conservative treatments take several weeks or months before you can accurately measure their effectiveness, it’s important to stay in contact with your doctor and report any increased pain.
Surgical intervention for an annular tear
If conservative treatments prove to be ineffective for you, your doctor may recommend surgery to treat your L5 to S1 annular tear. If this is your situation, contact USA Spine Care to learn how one of our minimally invasive procedures can help you find relief from neck and back pain without the need for traditional open spine surgery.
We offer minimally invasive decompression and stabilization surgery that can either remove a small portion of the damaged disc or entirely replace the disc with an artificial one, depending on the severity of your condition. Many moderate spine conditions can be treated with our decompression surgery. However, some more seriously damaged spines may require a stabilization surgery.
Our minimally invasive approach to the spine allows our patients to experience a shorter recovery time and lower risk of complication compared to traditional open back surgery.^ For more information about your condition and the treatment options available to you, reach out to USA Spine Care and ask for a free MRI review.* We can determine if you are a potential candidate for our outpatient procedures.