Low back pain is one of the most common conditions to send people to see an orthopedic doctor. Everyone will experience low back pain at least once in their life, and when this happens, there is a tendency to want to self-diagnose. While low back pain is often managed well without surgery, it could be recurrent, which means it needs long-term treatment.
The area of the lower back consists of the L1 through S5 vertebral bones of the spine. Low back pain can be caused by a variety of reasons, such as muscle tightness, a fracture, arthritis, a disc herniation, or stenosis. Here’s what could be happening in the lumbar region of your spine when you experience pain.
L1 to S5 Lumbar Region
The lumbar region of the back consists of five vertebral bones located in the lower portion of the back. The L1 to L5 vertebral bones are between the lower rib and the pelvis. In between the bones are spinal discs, which function as shock absorbers. The discs have a tough exterior called the annulus and a jelly-like interior called the nucleus. Degenerative conditions of the spine such as arthritis can cause the nucleus to push out and irritate the surrounding nerves and cause lower back pain. Conditions affecting the L1 to L5 region of the back usually cause symptoms that are felt in the hips, legs, and feet.
The L1 and L2 vertebra contain a portion of the spinal cord, therefore, injuries to this part can cause numbness, hip flexor issues, and bowel and bladder control issues. L3 to L5 does not contain the spinal cord and injuries to the vertebral bones often produce symptoms that include weakness and loss of flexibility in the lower extremities.
The S1 portion of the vertebral spine is the start of the sacral region of the spine, which also contains the coccyx. The L5 and S1 portions consist of the lumbosacral joint, which connects the bones. The L5-S1 lies in between the lumbar curve and the sacral curve, which means it carries a lot of mechanical stress that makes it vulnerable to problems due to aging, wear and tear, and degeneration.
Sacral pain affects nerve communication to the lower extremities, namely the hips, groin, thighs, and perineal area. Injury to the sacral nerves may cause lower back and leg pain, lack of bowel or bladder control, difficulty walking, and sensory issues in the groin area.
Injuries anywhere in the L1 and the S5 region of the spine are usually due to falls, accidents, degenerative conditions, and osteoporosis. To identify the exact source of your pain, your doctor can conduct nerve conduction tests to determine the source of pain and treat any underlying issues.
Spine Care in Johnson City, Kingsport, and Bristol, TN
At Watauga Orthopaedics, our orthopedic doctors specialize in treating neck and back pain due to problems with the spine. With our superior Watauga SpineCare program, you can trust our orthopedic spine surgery specialists as well as our physical and rehabilitation specialists to provide high-quality, effective care. If you have questions about our SpineCare program or would like to book an appointment with us, call (423) 282-9011 or use our convenient online request form.