Lumbar spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal that occurs in the lower part of the spine (lumbar region). This narrowing compresses the nerves, making it crowded and difficult for our nerve roots to exit freely through the foramen. Compressed nerves cause pain, numbness, tingling and weakness in the lower back, buttocks and legs; especially after walking and physical activity. People who have spinal stenosis may find it difficult to walk for long periods of time. The pain usually improves when you bend or lean forward, lie down, or sit.
Symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis:
- Numbness and “pins and needles” in your legs, calves or buttocks
- Dull or aching back pain that spreads to your legs
- Weakness or loss of balance
- Difficulty walking distances
- Decreased endurance for physical activities
Lumbar spinal stenosis develops slowly over time and is most commonly seen in older patients due to the natural aging effects on the lower spine. In younger patients, the cause may be irregular bonegrowth, or may be related to an earlier trauma, or simply related to a patient’s specific anatomy.