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Spondylosis, which is age-related degeneration of the spine, occurs at the junction of the L5 and S1 vertebrae. L5-S1 is a common place for deterioration of cartilaginous anatomy, like the intervertebral discs and facet joints. The abbreviations L5 and S1 refer to the last vertebra of the lumbar spine (lower back) and the first vertebra of the sacral spine (right above the tailbone).

It is important to keep in mind that spondylosis itself is not a diagnosis or the cause of lower back pain. Rather, spinal weakening that comes with spondylosis can lead to conditions like facet disease and degenerative disc disease, which can manifest as ruptured discs, disc protrusions, bone spurs, spondylolisthesis, or spinal stenosis.

When spondylosis leads to spinal abnormalities around the L5 and S1 vertebrae, the sciatic nerve can experience compression. The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the entire body and it innervates the buttocks, hip joints, legs, feet, and toes. Compression of this nerve gives rise to radicular pain that can travel through all of these regions.

Sciatica symptoms include:

  • Numbness
  • Pain
  • Weakness
  • Tingling