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L5-S1 Disc Disease - Definition, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

An L5-S1 disc disease is a disease of the intervertebral disc space between two vertebrae of the spine. The most frequently encountered is degenerative disc disease, a process of gradual deterioration of an intervertebral disc mainly due to osteoarthritis. In most cases, this disc degeneration is located at the lumbosacral junction between the L5 and S1 vertebrae. There is stiffening, drying, and a gradual settling of the disc. This is due to cellular aging of the intervertebral disc.


L5S1 degenerative disc disease manifests itself through: episodes of intense pain at this point in the spine, a pain that shoots down the back to the junction with the buttocks; sciatic pain due to inflammation of the nerves that go along the vertebrae, responsible for pain felt near the L5 nerves (connected to the buttocks, posterior thigh, lateral knee and ankle, foot, and big toe) and S1 nerves (buttocks, thigh posterior portion, behind the knee, posterior part of the leg, and back portion of the foot all the way to the last toe); a herniated disc, i.e. a protrusion of the intervertebral disc; or tingling in the legs.


To make an accurate diagnosis, the doctor will initially evaluate back flexibility as well as mobility. Then, he may take an X-ray or MRI to highlight the disc disease and possible complications, such as a herniated disc.


If L5S1 disc disease is diagnosed, the doctor will prescribe an anti-inflammatory that can relieve pain. Local corticosteroid injections may also be used. A massage by a physiotherapist reduces pain by relaxing the muscles and fighting against painful posture issues. Surgery is also an option, but it is reserved for the most severe cases.


It is possible to prevent the onset of degenerative disc disease by regularly practicing a sport and maintaining a healthy lifestyle to encourage good circulation. It is also important to strengthen back muscles for better support. Losing weight is also essential to reduce any burden on the vertebrae.

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