L5-S1 Pinched Nerve Symptoms

The spinal column is made up of small bones -- called vertebrae -- stacked on top of each other. Nerves exit the spine between each of these bones -- one nerve on each side. 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.

Business man at desk gripping his lower back in pain (Image: AndreyPopov/iStock/Getty Images)


Pain is a common symptom associated with L5-S1 pinched nerves. 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. 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.

Numbness and Tingling

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.


With prolonged L5-S1 nerve impingement, you may develop weakness in one or both legs as nerve impulses to the muscles are interrupted. 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.

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