Getting to the bottom of L4/L5 & L5/S1 Disc Problems

Since launching Activate Clinic, a few conditions have stood out as major, common problems for people across a wide age range. L4/L5 and/or L5/S1 disc degeneration, buldging discs or herniated discs are some of the most diagnosed injuries we see. However, one of the biggest issues that we see is that symptoms in people with these diagnoses report vastly differing symptoms. The question that followed was if everyone has the same diagnosis, why is their pain so different?




• Numbness in the legs

• Pain on the outside of the hips

• Pins and needles in the feet/calves

• Pain down the back of the leg

• Lower back pain

• Cramping in the calves

• Heel pain

• Pain at the bottom of the feet (especially when standing after sitting for a while)




Our education in healthcare tells us that L4/L5 & L5/S1 disc problems could contribute to the above symptoms. But interestingly, after we do our initial assessment following a lumbar disc diagnosis we usually find other confounding factors that explain the pain more directly than an issue at the lumbar spine.

I would like to tell you the “quick fix” that works for everyone but the true answer is everyone requires a different solution. However, I feel like this might be useful information for most people who are stuck in the process of treating the lower back to no avail. If your problem is in fact something different to the L4/L5 L5/S1 issue then you likely won’t be able to enjoy a prolonged period of recovery without relapse. The best strategy is continued investigation to identify which movements aggravate the pain in order to find potential causes that may differ to the lumbar discs.


No! If you’ve had a scan that showed an issue with L4/L5 or L5/S1 then there is definitely something going on with the lumbar discs. The issue that I’m raising is that the disc problems may not be contributing to the symptoms radiating down to the hips, legs and feet.

The best way to explain it is to say that it’s likely that the cause of the disc disease issue is similar to the cause of your other symptoms: the muscles in the body are not strong enough to withstand your daily activities.




  1. Identify weaknesses and movements that trigger the pain
  2. Get your muscles stronger in the areas that are weak
  3. Build muscular endurance in all your muscles

You can do these yourself but unless you are an expert in functional anatomy, I strongly encourage you to get a professional with great diagnostic experience to help you. At Activate Clinic we are confident that we can help you identify weak muscles, improve them and get lasting relief for good.

About The Author

Hany is an Exercise Physiologist & the Clinic Director here at Activate Clinic.

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