Lumbar Spinal Canal Stenosis | Overview

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What is lumbar spinal canal stenosis?

The lumbar spinal canal is the space inside the lower spine that carries nerves to your legs. It is very narrow. Over the course of many years, the bone and tissue around the canal grow, causing the canal to become even more narrow over time. This narrowing is called "stenosis." As the lumbar spinal canal narrows, the nerves that go through it are squeezed. This squeezing may cause back pain, leg pain and weakness.

Arthritis, falls, accidents, and wear and tear on the spine's bones and joints can also cause lumbar spinal canal stenosis.

Is lumbar spinal canal stenosis the same as a ruptured disk?

Lumbar spinal canal stenosis is not the same as a ruptured disk. A ruptured or "herniated" disk usually pinches 1 or 2 nerves at a time. The pain caused by a ruptured disk in the lumbar spine is usually easy to diagnose and is known as sciatica. Sciatica usually causes back pain that shoots down one leg along the path of the sciatic nerve. Sciatica can happen any time, not just when you stand up or start walking like it does with stenosis.

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 03/14
Created: 09/00

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Lumbar Spinal Canal Stenosis

Overview

Symptoms

Diagnosis & Tests

Treatment