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What is the L5 Disc?

By Jodee Redmond
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The L5 disc makes up part of the lumbar region of the back, or the lower back area. Each one of the vertebrae that are found here are numbered, from L1 to L5, and discs are found in between the vertebrae. This disc is located between the L4 and the L5 vertebrae.

This part of the back needs to be quite mobile, since it has to bear most of the body's weight. As a result, it is often the part of the back that causes discomfort for back pain sufferers. An injury or strain in this part of the back can often cause pain that radiates down one or both legs.

If you had lower back pain that gets better after a week or two, it's likely that you pulled a muscle in the area. In the lumbar area of the back, there is no spinal cord. If you had a serious injury to the area around the L5 disc, you are not likely to become paralyzed as a result. This type of incident is more likely to cause nerve pain instead.

In a situation where the L5 disc has leaked out toward and puts pressure on the nerve in the area, this condition is called a herniated disc. The majority of herniated disc problems will occur in the L4-L5 region of the back.

The pain from a herniated L5 disc can cause weakness in the foot. Some people with this condition report feeling numbness or pain at the top of the foot. Doctors will monitor the condition for a few weeks before considering more aggressive treatment. Medication to control pain may be prescribed, along with physical therapy.

When these measures haven't improved the patient's condition after six weeks or so, surgery may be recommended. The procedure involves removing the part of the L5 disc that is pressing against the nerve. As a result, the nerve is given a chance to heal. In most cases, the doctor only needs to remove a small portion of the L5 disc to give the patient relief from his or her symptoms.

The surgeon will make a small incision in the L5 disc region to perform the repair. The patient will likely only need to stay overnight at the hospital before being allowed to go home. He or she will be able to resume normal activities, including work, within three weeks after the surgery.

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Discussion Comments

By anon1006768 — On May 17, 2022

ANON65836: Have you tried any supplements? I currently take 1000 to 2000 mg. of MSM. I start with 1000mg and take another in 4 to 6 hours if the pain is too severe. I take 500 to 1000 mg. of L- lysine in a day along with calcium/magnesium/vitamin D tablets or soft gels. They are balanced measures so look for that combination. I buy this online. You can buy them anywhere really. Most economical would be a warehouse club.

The one I use most often for pain is MSM. I’m not trying to tell you what to take. I’m telling you what works for me. I’ve had herniated discs since 2002 and the pain pills were very strong. I quit those because they didn’t really work and I was druggy feeling most of the time and got fat, too.

When I stopped the pain pills I came back to life and got better from the MSM.

So if these things work for you , let others know about them. I’m rarely on any media. I’m just a regular person who doesn’t care for online activities. I prefer the physical kinds .

God bless you dear friend. In Christ, amen. D. A.

By anon308910 — On Dec 13, 2012

I agree it takes time to recover from a discectomy. I had the surgery at the end of Oct 2012 and for the first six weeks could not sit for more than 15 minutes without discomfort.

My advice is to continue to wear the back support, and do not sit for more than 20 minutes at a time. Do not bend or twist. I would strongly recommend hydrotherapy exercises. I have been told the lumbar disc can take four to six months to repair.

By anon161151 — On Mar 18, 2011

I had a microdiscectomy to remove a bit of my L5 disc and I'd like to note that to imply someone can return to normal activities within three weeks is disingenuous.

The sciatic pain was relieved by the surgery, but I could only sit for a few minutes at a time a day after surgery. I had great physical therapy (personalised because my Mum is a physio) and was a model patient who always did my exercise.

I went back to work eight weeks after the operation, but could only work part time because I could only sit for limited periods of time. It took months to build up my sitting tolerance. I am now physically very fit and healthy, but you shouldn't imply that you can go back to normal activities after three weeks (in fact, it took years before I could work normal office hours without discomfort).

The rehab takes much longer, and not everyone has access to the amount of physical therapy that I had. It was excellent to avoid nerve damage (which would have caused much longer-term physical issues) but post-op rehab is an important part of healing and takes much longer than three weeks.

By anon124337 — On Nov 05, 2010

I currently suffer from what has been diagnosed as lumbago. I am currently sitting with a tens unit on and the pain is radiating down my left leg. I rarely get a five hour nights rest, let alone an eight hour one.

I have gained an excessive amount of weight and that is no help. I have been on just about every pain killer available and it helps during the regimen, after that the pain is back.

Help! I am about to go crazy, I do not go out unless doctor appointments or something very serious has happened.

By anon65836 — On Feb 16, 2010

The L5 disk is between the L5 and S1 vertebral bodies, not L4 and L5.

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