Lumbar Spinal Stenosis - Topic Overview
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 Stenosis.
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 .
The result can be pain, numbness, or weakness, most often in the legs, feet, and buttocks.
It's most often caused by changes that can happen as people age. For example:
- Connective tissues called
ligaments get thicker.
- 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 canal.
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
- Stiffness in the legs and thighs.
- Low back
- In severe cases, loss of bladder and bowel control.
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.