A narrowing of the spinal canal that results in symptoms of compression of the spinal nerves or occasionally the spinal cord is referred to as spinal stenosis. Another term for narrowing that affects the spinal cord is a myelopathy. Spinal stenosis is a rather common condition, especially in the elderly (but it can occur in younger people, though less frequently.)

Leg and back discomfort are the symptoms that are being felt. Walking is usually the cause of this pain, which can result in numbness, weakness, or unsteadiness in one or both legs at times.

Doctors refer to weakness in the legs that worsens, especially when walking, as claudication. Common causes include vascular (caused by blood artery narrowing) and spinal (caused by bone development that reduces space for spinal nerves).

Typically, the patient can walk for up to 50 meters (or even 500 meters) before the pain and numbness get more severe and they have to halt.

For the majority, sitting down or bending forward helps patients heal and resume walking.

In certain cases, similar sensations also occur when standing.

Moreover, most patients report no leg pain when they are at rest.

(However, back pain varies, and greater back discomfort while walking is not a sign of spinal stenosis.)


Usually, when we age naturally, our lower backs experience degenerative changes.

Occasionally, these modifications result in a partial constriction, or “stenosis,” of the central canal, the nerve tunnel that runs through the spine.

Others get “foraminal stenosis,” a somewhat different constriction to the smaller side tunnels with the spine.

In practical terms, the symptoms associated with both of these categories are nearly identical.

Normal central canal – Narrow central canal

Clinical Effects

Both the constriction and the compression cause temporary reductions in the blood flow to the nerves within the spine.

Walking causes pain because the spinal tunnels are smaller while you are upright and larger when you are sitting with your spine curved. 


Your general practitioner (GP) reviews the issue first and provides a clinical diagnosis. Next, you typically seek the advice of a hospital expert, who evaluates the issue and, in rare cases, orders an MRI or CT scan to confirm it.

Lower back central canal stenosis at a single location or level.

More than one level may be impacted in some people.


There is some uncertainty over the problem’s trajectory, but in general, 1:5 will become better with time, 3:5 will remain the same, and 1:5 will get worse.

Even worse, the walking distance will typically progressively decrease, and occasionally the nerve supply to the limb will experience progressively more damage.


His illness is a “quality of life” problem. You may not require any interventions if you find your symptoms tolerable.

The majority of experts would advise you to begin with easier, less dangerous treatments initially.


increasing general fitness, strength, and spinal mobility

enhancing pain management

Regularly complete exercises for spinal mobility and stability.

Start out by riding your static bike frequently and little. Patients frequently have less leg pain cycling than walking. Leg muscle tone and fitness can both be enhanced with the usage of an exercise bike. Begin by dedicating just two or three minutes twice daily, and gradually extend the duration every few days.

Making every effort to walk.

Weight loss if applicable.

Some individuals respond better to these straightforward interventions, and if surgery was required, being as healthy as possible would make the procedure safer because you would be in better physical condition.

Simple pain treatment, utilizing over the counter drugs such as paracetomol or ibuprofen.

It is usually more beneficial to use a variety of tablets as a “umbrella” for pain management rather than attempting to depend just on one kind of drug.

nerve pain regulation.

Nerve pain-modifying medications, such as gabapentin or amitriptyline, can be prescribed by doctors.

A suitable course of such therapy can help some patients’ leg pain.

A recent randomised controlled research that was published in the journal “Spine” shown that gabapentin, as opposed to a placebo, was unquestionably beneficial when used in conjunction with a fitness and activity program.

With time, walking distance is frequently increased by pushing through the pain to reach the threshold of symptoms and then a little bit beyond.

It can take several months to determine whether or whether these easy steps are beneficial.

Recall that although it hurts, you won’t damage it!


steroid and local anesthetic injections, like as those used in root canal or epidural procedures, may be helpful to certain individuals if necessary.

An epidural injection, which treats the entire lumbar spine, is administered into the spinal canal. Compared to back pain, they appear to be more beneficial for leg pain.

Injections surrounding a nerve are referred to by various names, including transforaminal epidurals, periradicular injections, nerve root blocks, and root canal injections. They can be very beneficial for leg discomfort, especially when it is limited to one leg.

A local anesthetic can often block the nerve pain, improving symptoms either permanently or for a considerable amount of time. Roughly 60% of patients will react favorably. These are repeatable, low-risk procedures.

Recent research indicates that injecting local anesthetic alone, as opposed to anesthetic with steroids, may have the same therapeutic impact.

Usually, the hospital specialist requests these injections. They could happen at the X-ray department or the clinic.


the degree of symptoms and the treatment plan are often matched. Pain management is crucial since pain may be quite upsetting.

In cases where symptoms worsen or become intolerable after trying all the less complicated interventions, surgery may be highly beneficial. It’s crucial to take your overall health and fitness into account before having surgery.

Some novel surgical interventions have been introduced, including interspinous distraction devices. You can access the NICE guidelines by visiting this page.

Comparing this to a spinal decompression operation, this is a less intrusive technique. One sign that this is a procedure that’s right for a particular person is if they can sit for approximately thirty minutes without experiencing any pain in their legs. Normally, you would only spend the night in the hospital.

A decompression is the “gold standard” procedure for treating spinal stenosis. In order to allow the nerves more space, the bone that is crushing them is removed here. If you’re terrible enough, it can be quite beneficial.

Surgey is typically more effective for treating leg pain than back discomfort. It is necessary to discuss the specifics of the procedure with a surgeon who has experience performing that kind of surgery. typically a physician with a focus on spinal surgery.

Aspects to think about

How are you doing? Other illnesses and issues.

Your overall level of health.

Does the issue affect a single or numerous parts of the spine?


Other Possible Causes of Symptoms

hepatic claudication. Similar symptoms can occasionally be caused by constriction of the blood arteries in the legs, especially in smokers. Giving up smoking will usually make things better.

An insufficient amount of vitamin B12 or diabetes can occasionally result in numbness and unsteadiness in the legs. A basic blood test can rule out certain disorders.