The term "L5" describes the area, or level, in which a specific spinal nerve exits the spinal column and runs through the body. The L5 segment is in the lower spine, and the spinal nerve associated with it runs down the back of the legs to provide sensory and motor signals to the legs. This nerve may be damaged permanently with certain conditions. Because treating nerve pain can be difficult, a patient should understand the available treatments for L5 nerve root permanent nerve damage.
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Pain medications are the first-line treatments for L5 permanent nerve damage. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the first medications prescribed are typically nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as naproxen or ibuprofen. If the nerve damage is causing severe pain, medications such as gabapentin or amitriptyline may be prescribed.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may cause liver, kidney, stomach or heart problems and should be used only under close supervision. Gabapentin and amitriptyline may cause drowsiness, dizziness, lightheadedness or hallucinations, and the patient should immediately let his doctor know if he’s experiencing any of these side effects.
According to Medline Plus of The National Institutes of Health, physical therapy is an appropriate treatment for permanent L5 nerve root damage. Physical therapy will help relieve pain and will increase muscle strength and control that may be affected by L5 nerve root damage. Physical therapy may include not only exercises but also stretches, ice and heat therapy and massage. Physical therapy is effective only if the patient completes all sessions and continues with the home exercise program.
If muscles are severely weak in the affected leg, walking aids may be prescribed, states Medline Plus. Depending on the extent of the disability, walking aids may range from foot orthotics to a permanent wheelchair. These aids are prescribed to improve mobility and the ability to use the affected limb. A patient typically learns how to use these devices in therapy.