Does L5-S1 Bulging Disc Cause Tailbone Pain?

An L5-S1 bulging disc is a deteriorating spinal disc that’s located just above the sacrum. The position of this disc is between the hips in your lower back. The L5-S1 disc is the last of the 23 spinal discs that cushion your vertebrae. Given where is it, it’s not surprising that people who have been diagnosed with a bulging disc in the lowest region of the spine might think it’s the cause of their tailbone pain. However, actual tailbone pain, termed coccydynia is typically caused by an injury to the tailbone that leads to inflammation or infection. 

Nevertheless, a bulging L5-S1 disc can cause pain that seems to be originating in the tailbone. A bulging disc is a disc with a weakened outer layer. This will cause it to protrude into the spinal canal. This can put pressure on the spinal cord or an adjacent nerve root. This is a common cause of symptoms known as sciatica. One of those symptoms of sciatica is severe pain and difficulty when sitting. This can also be symptomatic of a tailbone injury. 

The best way to determine whether you’re experiencing L5-S1 bulging disc symptoms or coccydynia is to consult with your doctor. They can order diagnostic tests to help pinpoint the cause of your lower back pain. Imaging diagnostics can include X-rays, CT scans, and/or MRIs. BEST Health System can perform all of these imaging diagnostics in our state-of-the-art facility. Your doctor may also refer you to a spine specialist for further evaluation if appropriate. 

Treatment for L5-S1 Bulging Disc Symptoms

The typical course of treatment for an L5-S1 bulging disc often includes many of the same treatments a doctor would prescribe for coccydynia. These may include sitting for only short periods of time, using a cushion for tailbone support when sitting is necessary, applying ice packs to reduce inflammation, and taking pain or anti-inflammatory medications. Your doctor may also prescribe corticosteroid injections if the pain is severe or longstanding. 

If you have been diagnosed with a bulging disc and experiencing debilitating symptoms that haven’t responded to several weeks or months of nonsurgical treatments, you may be interested in learning about the minimally invasive outpatient surgery performed at BEST Health System. Dr. Girton and Dr. Abbott, our board-certified surgeons perform the procedures at BEST. Our procedures are a much more effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery. We use a less than one-inch incision which eliminates the need for an overnight hospital stay. This also reduces the overall recovery time and risk of infection. 

If you want to learn more about the procedures at BEST Health System, contact us today!