L5-S1 Degenerative Disc Disease: Symptoms, Treatment & Exercises

Our spine is flexible and durable, permitting us to move freely in many different directions. The vertebrae are separated from each other by inter-vertebral discs which function like cushions. Degenerative disc disease is a condition that occurs when a disc does not function as it should; either due to aging or because of trauma.

The disc between the 5th lumbar and the 1st sacral vertebra is known as L5-S1 disc. Importantly, the curve of the spine changes at this location, and thus more stress is placed on this disc. The L5-S1 disc is habitually diagnosed with degenerative disc disease and is the chief cause of lower back pain.

Symptoms Of L5-S1 Disc Degeneration

  • The primary symptom is pain in the lower back. Pain is centralized and situated quite low in the back. There will be a dull, chronic and agonizing pain with acute flare-ups of severe pain. The pain gets aggravated when you sit or stand for long periods of time.
    Impairment of the disc causes the surrounding nerves to send messages of pain. When the pain increases during flare-ups, the muscles of the lower back go in to spasms.
  • When the disc extrudes out, the nerves exiting the spinal cord get impinged, and consequently, there is referred pain in the buttocks, hips and thighs.
  • Some also complain of tingling, numbness, and altered sensations in these regions.
  • Nerves which have been impinged for a protracted period of time by disc degeneration ultimately stop sending signals from the brain to the muscles. Decreasing the pressure on the nerves from the failing disc is vital in order to regain normal function.

L5-S1 Degenerative Disc Treatment And Exercises

Prompt and timely diagnosis and treatment of the condition are very essential to manage the symptoms and ward off complications.

Initially, you could take the prescribed analgesics to manage the pain and discomfort in the lower back. Thereafter, you can switch to home remedies which offer excellent management of the pain as well as other associated symptoms.

  • Ginger: Ginger is packed with gingerols which is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that helps reduce inflammation, swelling and consequently pain in the lower back. Have 1 to 2 glasses of ginger tea daily.
  • Heat application also affords immense relief for the pain and discomfort. Heat base oil such as olive oil or sesame seed oil and gently massage in to the spine once daily. You may also discuss with an aromatherapy specialist and add other essential oils which are decidedly beneficial for lower back pains.
  • Confer with your health care provider and start off with physical therapy exercises. Exercises need to focus on core stabilization. Back stretches under guidance help improve the symptoms appreciably. These comprise of stretches which extend your back (standing up and leaning backwards) and flexing your back (bending forward and touching your toes). Core stabilization reinforces the abdominal and lower back muscles. Yoga is recommended by all experts to manage disc degeneration effectively. The flowing movements of Yoga asanas make the spine supple and flexible and help strengthen the surrounding muscles too.

After starting your treatment regimen, if you find that there is progressive neurologic dysfunction (i.e. the pain is worsening or there is loss of bowel and bladder continence) you need to seek further care, as these are signs that there’s something serious going on in the spine.

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