The intervertebral disc located between the fourth and fifth lumbar (L4-L5) vertebrae in the lower back is extremely vulnerable to degenerative conditions associated with normal wear and tear as we age. Disc herniation, joint deterioration and other age-related conditions commonly develop in the lower back because that area of the spine bears much of the body’s weight. In addition, the relative flexibility of the lumbar spine allows for a wide range of bending, twisting and other movement, which can exacerbate the effects of wear and tear on either the L4-L5 disc. Herniation, which is the leakage of gel-like nucleus material through a tear in the outer disc wall, often is the result.
Symptoms associated with a herniated disc
More often than not, an L4-L5 disc herniation does not produce symptoms. In fact, many people have a herniated disc in the lower back and never know it. Only when the extruded inner disc material irritates the spinal cord or – more likely – impinges a nerve root will symptoms such as pain, tingling, numbness or muscle weakness occur. When this happens at the L4-L5 level, there is a good chance that the sciatic nerve – the largest nerve in the body – is affected. This nerve gives its name to the set of symptoms known as sciatica.
Treating an L4-L5 disc herniation
In the vast majority of cases, symptoms associated with a herniated disc in the lower back can be effectively treated non-surgically, using pain medication, physical therapy, stretching, behavior modification and other conservative methods. However, if chronic symptoms persist after several weeks or months of conservative treatment, surgery may become an option. If so, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how one of our minimally invasive, outpatient procedures can help you find relief from neck or back pain.