This topic is about spinal stenosis of the lower back, also known
as the lumbar area. If you need information on spinal stenosis of the neck, see
the topic Cervical Spinal
Lumbar spinal stenosis is a
narrowing of the
spinal canal in the lower
back, known as the lumbar area.
This usually happens when bone or
tissue—or both—grow in the openings in the spinal bones. This growth can
squeeze and irritate nerves that branch out from the
spinal cord .
result can be pain, numbness, or weakness, most often in the legs, feet, and
It's most often caused by changes that can happen as people
age. For example:
- Connective tissues called
- Arthritis leads to the growth of bony
spurs that push on the nerves that branch out from the spinal cord.
- Discs between the bones may be pushed backward into the spinal
Symptoms may include:
- Numbness, weakness,
cramping, or pain in the legs, feet, or buttocks. These symptoms get worse when
you walk, stand straight, or lean backward. The pain gets better when you sit
down or lean forward.
- Stiffness in the legs and thighs.
- In severe cases, loss of bladder and bowel
Symptoms may be severe at times and not as bad at other
times. Most people aren't severely disabled. In fact, many people don't have
symptoms at all.
Your doctor can tell if you have it by asking
questions about your symptoms and past health and by doing a physical exam.
You will probably need imaging tests such as an
CT scan, and sometimes
You can most likely control mild
to moderate symptoms with pain medicines, exercise, and
physical therapy. Your
doctor may also give you a spinal shot of corticosteroid, a medicine that reduces
You may need surgery if your symptoms get worse or if they
limit what you can do. Surgery to remove bone and tissue that are squeezing the
nerve roots can help relieve leg pain and allow you to get back to normal
activity. But it may not help back pain as much.