Vertebrae are designated by a series of letters and numbers that indicate their exact position within the spine. Vertebrae in the upper or cervical spine are labeled C1 through C7. Vertebrae in the middle or thoracic spine are labeled T1 through T12. Vertebrae in the lower or lumbar spine are labeled L1 through L5. And vertebrae in the sacral spine are labeled S1 through S5. The juncture between the L5 and S1 vertebrae is known as the lumbosacral joint. Because of its location at the base of the spine and the wide range of motion it provides, this segment is particularly vulnerable to injury and deterioration. If the disc between the L5 and S1 vertebrae collapses, it can allow the bones to rub against one another, causing inflammation, irritation and eventually bone spurs. It can also put pressure on the L5 nerve root, triggering a number of symptoms known collectively as sciatica.
The collapsed disc symptoms at L5-S1 may include:
- A sharp or stabbing pain in the lower back that makes it difficult to stand up or walk
- Persistent pain in one buttock or leg
- Pain that gets worse when sitting
- Pain that radiates down the leg and into the foot or toes
- Muscle weakness that makes it difficult or impossible to fully lift the foot
- Numbness or tingling in one buttock, hip or thigh
- Symptoms that worsen when lying down
While the term collapsed disc may suggest a sudden, catastrophic compression of the disc, in the vast majority of cases it’s actually a very gradual process. Because of this, symptoms tend to be mild and intermittent at first, worsening slowly over time. Patients may wait months or even years before their discomfort is enough to spur them to seek medical advice, but there is one symptom that should never be ignored. If any of the above conditions are accompanied by the sudden or gradual development of bowel or bladder incontinence, seek immediate medical attention. This could be an indication of a very serious condition that can lead to permanent paralysis.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a collapsed disc, sciatica or some other spine condition and have been unable to manage your symptoms using conservative treatment strategies, USA Spine Care may be able to help. Our surgeons have performed more than 100,000 minimally invasive outpatient procedures that have helped patients find lasting relief from chronic neck and back pain. To determine if you might be a candidate for our surgery, we can provide a free MRI review.* Contact a member of the USA Spine Care team today to learn more.
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