Lumbar spinal stenosis causes constriction and compression (pressure) mostly on the spinal nerve roots (in most patients, the majority of symptoms are from problems that occur below L2, and for most patients, the spinal cord ends above that). The spinal nerves (called the cauda equina in this region) carries all of the information from the brain to the legs and bladder/bowel region, and back to the brain, so when there is stenosis here, this can result in a reduced flow of information back and forth, which typically becomes more symptomatic when walking (from loss of blood supply to the nerves, similar to angina in the heart).

Some of the symptoms include weakness in the legs or pain in the back and/or legs when walking, often either resulting in a hunched-over walk, or made better when leaning forward. There can be impairment of bladder or bowel function with either incontinence or retention. Another potential sign or symptom of lumbar spinal stenosis is pain in the legs, such as a sharp, burning, or electrical pain, which can go up or down the back, or legs.

This condition can be caused by variations of osteoarthritis (arthritis), injuries and instability in the neck, herniated disks, circumstances where someone is born with a small spinal canal, as well as many other causes.


The treatment of symptomatic lumbar stenosis that has progressed in spite of conservative management (ie, less than surgery) is usually dependent upon the severity of the stenosis, whether there is associated spinal deformity, and what is the cause of the stenosis, but can include anterior procedures (such as anterior or lateral fusions, done open or minimally invasively), and posterior procedures in the back (such as laminectomy, with or without fusion, laminoplasty, or minimally invasive treatments, when appropriate).