Sciatica is a common source of pain that affects many people. It is caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back, through the hip and buttocks, and down the leg. One of the most common causes of sciatica is a herniated or bulging disc at the L5-S1 level.
The L5-S1 level is the lowest level of the lumbar spine. It is made up of the fifth lumbar vertebra (L5) and the first sacral vertebra (S1). The L5-S1 level is the most commonly affected area for herniated discs because it is where the lumbar spine meets the sacrum.
A herniated disc at the L5-S1 level can cause sciatica because the disc can press on the sciatic nerve as it exits the spine. This pressure can cause pain, numbness, and tingling in the lower back, hip, buttock, and leg. It can also cause weakness in the affected leg and foot.
The good news is that herniated discs can often be treated without surgery. Physical therapy, stretching, rest, and medications can help manage the symptoms of sciatica. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to relieve pressure on the sciatic nerve.
If you are experiencing sciatica-like pain, it is important to see your doctor. A physical exam and imaging tests can help determine if you have a herniated disc at the L5-S1 level. From there, your doctor can help you decide on the best treatment plan for your condition.