What are the symptoms of spinal stenosis?

Symptoms of spinal stenosis may develop gradually and increase over time. Sometimes they occur on only one side of the body, depending on which nerves are being compressed or stressed.

Common symptoms of spinal stenosis

You may experience spinal stenosis symptoms constantly or on and off during the day. At times any of these symptoms can be severe:

  • Bilateral numbness on the soles of the feet
  • “Foot drop” (feeling of the foot slapping the ground; caused by leg weakness)
  • Lower back pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Muscle weakness in one or more limbs
  • Pain, numbness or tingling in one leg or buttock
  • Pain, numbness or tingling in the neck, shoulder or arm
  • Pain on standing
  • Sciatica (shooting pain down the full extent of the back of one leg)
  • Urinary symptoms

Symptoms that might indicate a serious condition

In some cases, spinal stenosis can be a serious condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting. Its symptoms may also mimic those of stroke or other serious conditions. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have any of these serious symptoms including:

  • Abnormal sensations, numbness, or weakness on one side of the body
  • Impaired balance and coordination
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Loss of sensation in a limb or limbs
  • Muscle weakness in the arms or legs

What is spinal stenosis?

Spinal stenosis is a condition in which the spinal cord is compressed because of a narrowing of either the spinal canal within the spinal column, or the openings through which nerves extend away from the spinal column.

The spinal column refers to the column created by your vertebrae. This column is hollow at its core, creating a spinal canal to house and protect the spinal cord, w... Read more about spinal stenosisintroduction


What causes spinal stenosis?

Spinal stenosis can be caused by arthritis, as well as degeneration of the bones and discs through the aging process. It can also be caused by a congenital defect (present at birth), by injury, chronic infection or inflammation, spinal tumors, or bone diseases. In some cases, any kind of surgery on the spine can also lead to spinal stenosis.

Causes of spinal stenosis

Th... Read more about spinal stenosiscauses


How is spinal stenosis treated?

The preferred treatment for cases of persistent back pain from spinal stenosis is a combination of physical therapy, prescribed exercise, and medications for chronic pain. In some cases, you may benefit from steroid injections for temporary pain relief. Only if you have persistent pain, or if your pain does not respond to... Read more about spinal stenosistreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 30, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Brain and Nerves