The spinal column is made up of small bones -- called vertebrae -- stacked on top of each other 1. Nerves exit the spine between each of these bones -- one nerve on each side 1. These spinal nerves can be compressed by surrounding structures causing symptoms that may interfere with daily tasks. See your doctor if you suspect you have a pinched nerve.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Pain is a common symptom associated with L5-S1 pinched nerves 3. This may feel like a dull ache or a sharp pain. L5 nerve compression causes pain along the outer border of the back of your thigh, while S1 nerve compression causes pain in your calf and the bottom of your foot 3. This pain can range from mild to severe and may be constant or intermittent. Pain often worsens with standing, sitting or while sleeping. Sneezing, coughing or laughing may also increase your pain.
- Pain is a common symptom associated with L5-S1 pinched nerves 3.
- Pain often worsens with standing, sitting or while sleeping.
Numbness and Tingling
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Numbness or tingling in one or both legs typically occurs with L5-S1 pinched nerve. You may feel the sensation of pins and needles between your big toe and second toe and the top of your foot with L5 nerve compression, and the outer edge and bottom of your foot with S1 nerve compression. Numbness can make it difficult to feel pain on the bottom of your foot, which increases your risk of injury 1.
With prolonged L5-S1 nerve impingement, you may develop weakness in one or both legs as nerve impulses to the muscles are interrupted 2. This can significantly impact your balance and walking ability. L5 nerve compression makes it difficult for you to lift up your big toe and pull your foot upward while S1 nerve compression may make it difficult to point your foot down and rotate it outward. Surgery may be required to relieve the L5-S1 nerve root compression if weakness has developed.
- With prolonged L5-S1 nerve impingement, you may develop weakness in one or both legs as nerve impulses to the muscles are interrupted 2.
- L5 nerve compression makes it difficult for you to lift up your big toe and pull your foot upward while S1 nerve compression may make it difficult to point your foot down and rotate it outward.
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- Advances in Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation: The Management of Degenerative Lumbar Spine Disease
- University of Wisconsin-Madison: Weakness; Myopathy, Anterior Horn Cell Disease, Neuropathies and Neuromuscular Transmission Defects
- Baylor Health Care System: Sciatica -- Low Back and Leg Pain -- Diagnosis and Treatment Options
- Hochman MG, Zilberfarb JL. Nerves in a pinch: imaging of nerve compression syndromes. Radiol Clin North Am. 2004;42(1):221-45. doi:10.1016/S0033-8389(03)00162-3
- NIH National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Pinched nerve information page. Updated March 27, 2019.
- AdventHealth Medical Group. Cauda equina syndrome.
- AAOS OrthoInfo. Cervical radiculopathy (pinched nerve). Updated June 2015.
- Dimitrova A, Murchison C, Oken B. Acupuncture for the treatment of peripheral neuropathy: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Altern Complement Med. 2017;23(3):164-179. doi:10.1089/acm.2016.0155
- Conger A, Cushman DM, Speckman RA, Burnham T, Teramoto M, McCormick ZL. The Effectiveness of Fluoroscopically Guided Cervical Transforaminal Epidural Steroid Injection for the Treatment of Radicular Pain; a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Pain Med. 2019 Jun 10. pii: pnz127. doi:10.1093/pm/pnz127 [Epub ahead of print]
- Keating L, Treanor C, Sugrue J, Meldrum D, Bolger C, Doody C. A randomised controlled trial of multimodal physiotherapy versus advice for recent onset, painful cervical radiculopathy - the PACeR trial protocol. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2019 Jun 1;20(1):265. doi:10.1186/s12891-019-2639-4
As a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician I have extensive experience in musculoskeletal/neurological medicine that will benefit the network.