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Lumbar Spinal Stenosis - Symptoms

Many people, especially those older than age 50, have some narrowing of the spinal canal but don't have symptoms.

Symptoms occur when the nerve roots get squeezed.

Leg pain

The most common symptom is leg pain that happens when you walk or stand and feels better when you sit. You feel pain in your legs, because the nerve roots that pass through the lower spine camera.gif extend to the legs.

People often have leg pain when the spine is extended—when they are standing straight or leaning backward, for example.

And they often feel better when the spine is flexed—when they are sitting, walking uphill, riding a bicycle, or leaning over a grocery cart, for example.

People with severe stenosis may have a habit of leaning forward in a stooped position to relieve pain.

Other symptoms

Other symptoms may include:

  • Numbness, weakness, and cramping in the legs, feet, or buttocks.
  • Stiffness in the legs and thighs.
  • Low back pain.
  • In severe cases, loss of bladder and bowel control.

Several other conditions have symptoms similar to spinal stenosis.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 13, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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