Spinal disc deterioration between the lower back vertebrae known as L4 and L5 is one of the most common causes of back pain. These two vertebrae are among five located in the lumbar region of the spine — hence, the labels “L4” and “L5” — and they’re also among the spinal components that experience the most wear and tear during such everyday activities like twisting, turning, bending and lifting. There can be many factors that lead to the breakdown of the spinal disc that cushions these two vertebrae, but the most common is natural aging. Sometimes a sports injury or trauma from a car accident can damage the spine and cause premature deterioration of the L4-L5 disc as well.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a bulging disc, this means the tough outer shell that encases the disc’s gel-like inner contents has weakened and is protruding into the spinal canal. This is a common condition that many people experience without ever finding out about it unless the disc material rubs against the spinal cord or a nearby nerve root. When nerve compression occurs, you may experience any number of debilitating symptoms, including:
- Pain at the bulging disc site and potentially radiating to your buttocks, legs and feet
- Muscle weakness, tingling sensations and numbness in various parts of your lower body
- Difficulty in lifting a foot, a condition known as “foot drop”
Additionally, in rare cases, a bulging or ruptured disc in the lower back can cause a serious condition known as cauda equina syndrome, which requires emergency medical treatment. This syndrome is characterized by bowel or bladder dysfunction and/or a sudden inability to walk or stand.
Treatment for L4-L5 bulging disc
It’s important to consult with your doctor before undergoing any type of bulging disc treatment. Your doctor will be familiar with your medical history and the specific details of your L4-L5 bulging disc and thus is in the best position to provide a treatment plan that will help you address your symptoms. In many cases, a doctor will advise patients with a bulging disc to take anti-inflammatory medications, apply hot and cold compresses and try gentle stretching exercises to relieve the pressure on the affected nerve. Many patients can also benefit by easing the everyday pressures they put on their lower back through healthy weight management and adopting better posture.
Unfortunately, some people will not achieve enough relief from their bulging disc symptoms to be able to resume their normal lifestyle. If you’ve tried conservative treatments without success or your doctor has recommended spine surgery, you may be interested in the minimally invasive outpatient surgery performed at USA Spine Care. Our minimally invasive procedures provide many advantages versus open back surgery, including less scarring and shorter recovery times.
We’re happy to provide a free MRI review* to patients with bulging discs who wish to find out if they’re candidates for treatment at USA Spine Care. Contact us today for more information.