Spinal stenosis — the correlation between spinal stenosis and leg weakness

A common symptom of spinal stenosis, which is the narrowing of the spinal canal, is leg weakness and/or pain. This is especially true if the spinal stenosis is located in the lumbar (lower back) region of the spine.

People who have lumbar spinal stenosis may experience local pain in the lower back, as well as radiating pain down the buttock and leg. Severe cases cause the pain to travel to the foot of the affected side. If a nerve in the lumbar spine is compressed as a result of spinal stenosis, you may experience weakness or tingling in your leg as the compressed nerve struggles to send signals to the muscles in your leg and foot.

Leg weakness is a common side effect of lumbar spinal stenosis

Lumbar spinal stenosis is the most common form of spinal stenosis because the lumbar spine carries the most stress. The lumbar portion of your spine is the lowest section of vertebrae in your back. The main function of the lumbar is to carry the weight of the body, while stabilizing and allowing flexibility to the spine.

Over the years, as the body increases in weight and the pressure on the lumbar spine grows, components of the spine may start to gradually deteriorate. This could cause bulging or herniated discs and other abnormalities that shrink the space between the walls of the spinal canal and the spinal cord. If the walls continue to narrow, a nerve in the spinal cord might become impacted or compressed.

This is the main reason why lumbar spinal stenosis and leg weakness often coincide. When a nerve in the lumbar spine is compressed, it often sends waves of pain to the local extremities. In this case, that would be the leg and foot on the impacted side.

The importance of a proper diagnosis

Spinal stenosis can be caused by anything from natural aging and deterioration to other spine conditions causing the spinal canal to narrow. For this reason, you must consult a physician and schedule an MRI review to determine the cause of your spinal stenosis. Once you determine what is causing your spinal canal to narrow, you can decide which treatment option is best for your needs.

Additionally, the symptoms of spinal stenosis are very similar to several other spine conditions. A physician will have to review your MRI to determine whether or not your symptoms are being caused by spinal stenosis before an accurate treatment plan can be created.

If you suspect that you might have spinal stenosis or another degenerative spine condition, consult your physician so the he or she may accurately diagnose your condition. If your neck or back pain does not lessen after you try non-surgical treatments for several weeks or months, contact Laser Spine Institute. We can review* your MRI at no cost and help you determine if you are a candidate for a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure to alleviate your chronic pain.

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