What Does a Healthy Spine Look Like?

The spine is made up of more than 30 vertebrae, held together by ligaments, muscles, and “shock absorbing” discs. A healthy spine has enough space for the spinal sac of nerves leaving the spine to exit the spinal canal freely and extend to different parts of the body.

A healthy spine will allow you to:

  • Stand upright and tall

  • Do physical activity pain free

  • Keep good posture

  • Move around when you want, how you want

However, over time, many factors can contribute to the narrowing of the spinal canal in some people. This narrowing can cause pain and discomfort.

What Does a Non-Healthy Spine Look Like?

Lumbar spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal, which puts pressure on the nerves and causes pain.

Healthy Spine→ ←Spine with stenosis

A non-healthy spine may lead to:

  • Pain during physical activity

  • Hunched standing or walking

  • Extra pressure on your other muscles

  • Injuries in other areas of the body

  • General pain and soreness throughout the day

Causes & Symptoms of LSS

If you are experiencing pain or other symptoms, it could be LSS. LSS most often occurs over the natural aging process because the joints between your vertebrae tend to become larger over time, which leaves less room for your nerves. On rare occasions, spinal injury or irregular curvature of the spine may lead to LSS symptoms in patients of any age.

“I never really experienced an acute injury that I was aware of. Over time I would just have more painful days than I had non-painful days. I had back pain probably every bit of 20-25 years.”

Ken | Detroit, Michigan

The most common symptom of LSS is leg pain that increases while walking. While the symptoms may vary, the most common signs are:

  • Numbness or “pins and needles” sensation in legs, calves, and/or buttocks

  • Dull or aching back pain that spreads to the legs

  • Weakness or loss of balance

  • Difficulty walking

  • Decreased endurance for physical activities

  • With LSS, symptoms will often increase when standing straight up, and can be relieved by leaning forward onto a shopping cart, or sitting down. If your pain, numbness, and muscle weakness in your low back follows this pattern, it could be LSS.

Luckily, there are many treatment options that can help to improve and manage LSS. The best option will vary for each patient, but the best treatment is one that provides long-lasting support for your spine, and helps you live a pain-free life.

Treatment Options