Re: Low back pain
Basically, there is a disc bulge in your lumbar spine between the lumbar 4 and 5 vertebrae on the left side that is probably compressing a lumbar nerve at this level, resulting in the pain you are experiencing. It is bulging into the foramen at this level. The foramen is an opening at each vertebra that is formed by the vertebral body and its arch through which the spinal nerve passes out to the body. When an osteophyte (bone spur) forms on a vertebral endplate or facet joint, and/or when a disc bulges outward, it can take up space in this opening, providing less room for the nerve. This leads to the spinal nerve becoming compressed or "pinched." Depending on where this occurs, the patient will feel pain radiating down or out to a limb. I imagine you are feeling pain in your buttock and leg, if the compression is severe enough.
You will be treated with conservative measures, in an attempt to get the bulge to move off the nerve. This may include medications, physical therapy and possibly steroid injections that will reduce inflammation and hopefully, allow the bulge to heal.
When you begin to form osteophytes, it means that there is disc degeneration, which is something that happens to all of us as we age. Unfortunately aging in the human spine begins in our twenties...so you aren't too young to have some issues.
Unlike a disc bulge which may go away on its own, or shrink enough that it moves off the nerve, an osteophyte is pretty much there to stay. Depending on how it is impacting a nerve, it may cause pain some times or all the time. Usually osteophytes tend to enlarge or similar ones form.
The term "bone spur" makes it sound like this osteophyte is rough or jagged. But, in reality, it is smooth and simply means that the bone is enlarging. It is not painful by itself. Pain develops when the bone spur gets in the way of a spinal nerve.
The time may come when you will need to have surgery to open up the space if a nerve becomes too badly compressed. Or you may do just fine with conservative treatments.
You can find lots of information on this, or other sites, on osteophytes/bone spurs. My guess is that it is the osteophyte, more than the bulging disc, that is causing your pain symptoms.