Lumbar Spinal Stenosis - Symptoms

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What were the symptoms of your lumbar spinal stenosis?

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What are lumbar spinal stenosis symptoms?

Lumbar spinal stenosis can cause

  • low back pain,
  • weakness,
  • numbness,
  • pain,
  • loss of sensation in the legs and feet.

In most situations, the symptoms improve when the patient is sitting or leaning forward. Typically, painful sensations shoot down the legs with continued walking and diminish with resting. These leg sensations sometimes mimic sciatica. This particular activity-related symptom is sometimes referred to as pseudoclaudication (or neurogenic claudication) because it mimics the true claudication of poor circulation from the narrowed blood vessels of peripheral vascular disease. Standing and bending backward can make the symptoms worse. This is because bending forward increases the space in the spinal canal and vertebral foramina, while bending backward decreases this space. It is therefore more comfortable for patients to sit or lean forward. Patients are frequently unable to walk for long distances and often state that their symptoms are improved when bending forward while walking with the support of a walker or shopping cart.

The symptoms commonly worsen with time. This is because degenerative arthritis is a progressive disease that gradually becomes more severe with time. If left untreated, the compression on the nerves from lumbar spinal stenosis can lead to increasing weakness and loss of function of the legs. It can also lead to loss of bowel and bladder control and loss of sexual function.

A doctor can help determine if one's symptoms are from lumbar spinal stenosis or a different condition. Many other disorders can cause similar symptoms that mimic lumbar spinal stenosis including

  • diabetic neuropathy,
  • peripheral vascular disease,
  • vascular claudication.
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See what others are saying

Comment from: Pepper, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: December 11

Symptoms of my lumbar spinal stenosis are pain, especially while sleeping, inability to stand more than a few minutes and therefore losing ability to walk, chronic sciatica, usually on the left side but sometimes on the right, inability to lie in one position for more than a few minutes when trying to sleep, and increased pain with major weather changes.

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Comment from: Merry widow, 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: March 02

I had severe back pain that came and went. Sitting was the only relief of pain from my lumbar spinal stenosis. Finally I had epidural several days ago (4). Pain eased but there is some return of bearable pain in certain spots, hope relief lasts for quite a while. Have to give it more time, I guess. I am still afraid to risk doing too much, still taking it easy. I had epidural 10 years ago for sciatica. I see the doctor two weeks after my shot.

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