Lumbar stenosis occurs when an overgrowth of bone or tissue narrows the spaces in an individual’s lower (lumbar) spine, resulting in pressure on the spinal cord and/or nerve roots. The condition can cause numbness, weakness or tingling in the legs, feet, arm or hands, and/or, in severe cases, problems with bladder and bowel function. Symptoms typically start gradually and worsen over time.
The disorder affects both men and women and is most commonly caused by degenerative changes in the spine related to aging. Imaging tests such as X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans are commonly used to diagnose lumbar stenosis.
Common treatments include physical therapy, medication, or, in severe cases, surgery to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and/or nerves. Regular exercise also can help relieve symptoms.