An L5-S1 bulging disc is a deteriorating spinal disc that’s located just above the sacrum, which is positioned between the hips in your lower back. The L5-S1 disc is the last of the 23 spinal discs that cushion your vertebrae. Given where it is, it’s not surprising that people who have been diagnosed with a bulging disc in the lowest region of the spine might think it’s the cause of their tailbone pain. However, true tailbone pain, termed coccydynia by medical professionals, is not caused by a bulging disc because there’s no spinal disc in that area. Instead, coccydynia is typically caused by an injury to the tailbone that leads to inflammation or infection.
Nevertheless, a bulging L5-S1 disc can cause pain that seems to be originating in the tailbone. A bulging disc is a disc with a weakened outer layer that’s protruding into the spinal canal, where it can put pressure on the spinal cord or an adjacent nerve root. This is a common cause of symptoms known as sciatica, and one of those symptoms is severe pain and difficulty when sitting, which also can be symptomatic of a tailbone injury.
The best way to determine whether you’re experiencing L5-S1 bulging disc symptoms or coccydynia is to consult with your doctor. He or she can order diagnostic tests, such as an X-ray, CT scan or MRI, to help pinpoint the cause of your lower back pain, as well as refer you to a spine specialist for further evaluation if appropriate.
Treatment for L5-S1 bulging disc symptoms
The typical course of treatment for an L5-S1 bulging disc often includes many of the same treatments a doctor would prescribe for coccydynia. These may include sitting for only short periods of time, using a cushion for tailbone support when sitting is necessary, applying ice packs to reduce inflammation and taking pain or anti-inflammatory medications. Your doctor may also prescribe corticosteroid injections if the pain is severe or longstanding.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a bulging disc and you’re experiencing debilitating symptoms that haven’t responded to several weeks or months of nonsurgical treatments, you may be interested in learning about the minimally invasive outpatient surgery performed at USA Spine Care. Our outstanding surgeons treat many common spine conditions, and our minimally invasive outpatient procedures are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back procedures.
You can request a free MRI review* to find out if you’re a candidate for treatment at USA Spine Care. Contact us today to learn more.