When experiencing symptoms of spinal stenosis, you may feel one or more of the following:

  • Numbness or tingling in a foot, hand, arm, or leg: Individuals with lumbar (lower back) spinal stenosis may also experience numbness or tingling in the buttocks.
  • Neck or back pain: Depending on the degree of arthritis that has developed, people with spinal stenosis may or may not have back pain.
  • Weakness in a hand, arm, foot or leg: With spinal stenosis in the lumbar region, there may be weakness in one or both legs.
  • Difficulty walking: Some people experience “foot drop” – the feeling that their foot slaps the ground while they are walking.
  • Cramping or pain in one or both legs when walking or standing for long periods, which usually eases when you sit or bend forward.


The spine runs from the neck to the lower back. The spinal bones form a canal to protect the spinal cord. Spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal canal narrows for any of a variety of reasons. This condition is often caused by:

  • Bone spurs: Osteoarthritis wear and tear on the spinal bones can lead to formation of bone spurs growing into the spinal canal. A bone disease known as Paget’s disease, which usually affects adults, can also cause an overgrowth of bone into the spine.
  • Injury to the spine: Car crashes and other types of trauma can cause fracture or dislocation of one or more vertebrae. Displaced bone from a spinal fracture can damage the spinal cord. Back surgery can also cause swelling of surrounding tissues that places pressure on the nerves or spinal cord.
  • Slipped vertebra/disc (Spondylolisthesis)
  • Thickened ligaments: The ligaments that help hold the spinal bones together can thicken and become stiff with aging and bulge into the spinal canal.
  • Herniated discs: The discs are the soft cushions that act as shock absorbers between the vertebrae. They tend to dry out with age. Cracks in the exterior of a disc may allow soft inner material to escape and press against the nerves or spinal cord.
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