Lumbar Spine Anatomy
The spine itself is divided into three main sections: cervical spine, thoracic spine and lumbar spine. Each section is further divided into segments, called vertebrae, and each vertebra carries a specific name that identifies its position.
In-between each vertebra there is a softer structure called a spinal disc, which carries the name of the two vertebrae that it is situated between. In this case, the L5 S1 disc is situated in-between the lowermost vertebra of the lumbar spine and the top segment of the Sacrum bone.
Because of the location of this intervertebral disc, along with the connecting bones that form the lumbosacral joint and region, they are all prone to more physical pressure, as the weight of the entire spinal column and upper body is pressing onto the lumbosacral region.
As such, discs in the lumbar spine, and especially the lowermost disc, L5 S1, are prone to various types of problems, such as degeneration and wear-and-tear processes, disc herniation and prolapse. Additionally, these issues can cause further damage themselves, and can pinch a spinal nerve, leading to pain.
Some of the main conditions that can affect this region of the spine, and lead to pain include:
- Bulging disc, also known as a disc bulge – An L5 S1 disc bulge happens when the L5 S1 disc protrudes out of its designated place, but there is no crack in its outer layer.
- Lumbar disc herniation – on the other hand, in the case of an L5 S1 disc herniation, the inner contents of the disc itself protrude through a crack that has formed in its protective shell.
- Disc degeneration – aging and the stress placed upon discs throughout the years can wear out the discs. Additionally, as we get old, discs tend to lose their water content, and as such provide less shock absorption, which makes it more likely that we will feel painful sensations along our back.
- Joint problems – such as facet joint degeneration, which can cause pain and reduced range of motion.
- Spondylolisthesis – vertebrae in the lumbar spine are especially prone to this condition, where a bone segment (vertebra) slips out of place, creating spinal misalignment, and ultimately pain.
- Nerve pinching – nerves can become trapped or pinched when a disc pushes against it, or when the space between the vertebrae becomes narrower due to the drying out of a spinal disc. One of the most commonly affected nerves in this region is the sciatic nerve, which can cause sciatica. The cauda equina, which represents the bottom section of the spinal cord, can also become pinched and lea to severe pain.
- Spinal compression – when the spine becomes compressed, structures that make it up tend to be pushed down and squashed. This includes mostly nerve roots and spinal discs. Compression of the spine can force a crack into the outer layer of a disc, and it can also press down on nerve roots, which then create the sensation of pain.
When the L5 S1 disc is affected by any of the conditions above, it can be addressed in one or more of the following ways:
- Provided that the damage is not severe, the disc has the potential to heal on its own with sufficient rest.
- Avoid placing strain on your lower back, or even on your entire back if possible. This includes avoiding to lift heavy objects, as well as strong bending and twisting motions.
- Apply heating pads or ice packs to the affected area to temporarily lessen the pain.
- Work with a physiotherapist to improve pain levels and range of motion.
- Decompress your spine to target the problem from its source. You can decompress your spine with the help of a spinal decompression device designed for home use, called the Backrack.
Backrack Spinal Decompression Device
Why Spinal Decompression
As previously stated, spinal compression is the core source for many back problems. By addressing it, spinal conditions that are linked to it, shall subside after the treatment.
Using the Backrack can help you achieve this goal at your own pace, from the comfort of your own home.