Spinal Stenosis


More than 200,000 U.S. adults are affected by spinal stenosis.


people worldwide are diagnosed with spinal stenosis each year.


While spinal stenosis can affect younger patients, it typically affects people who are age 60 and older.

What is spinal stenosis?

Spinal stenosis is a condition that is characterized by pain and weakness in the neck or lower back. The condition occurs when the spaces in between your spine become more narrow, placing pressure on the nerves that travel through your spine. [1]

This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as bone overgrowth, thickened ligaments, and spinal injuries.

There are two types of spinal stenosis: cervical stenosis (which affects your neck) and lumbar stenosis (which affects your lower back). Lumbar stenosis is the more common form of the condition.

Who is affected?

Anyone can be diagnosed with spinal stenosis. The condition is generally diagnosed after the age of 50, although young people live with the condition too. [2]

What happens in your body?

Common symptoms of spinal stenosis include: [1]

  • Cervical spinal stenosis:
    • Neck pain
    • Problems with walking and balance
    • Burning sensations or tingling in the arm or leg
    • Pain, weakness, or numbness in the arms, legs, feet, or shoulders
    • In severe cases, bowel or bladder problems
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis:
    • Back pain
    • Weakness in a foot or leg which causes the foot to slap down when walking (also called ‘foot drop’)
    • Numbness, or tingling in a foot or leg
    • Pain or cramping in one or both legs when standing for long periods of time or walking
    • Burning pain going down the buttocks and the legs
    • Loss of sexual ability

Symptoms of spinal stenosis vary depending on the nerves affected by the condition.

How do I know if I have spinal stenosis?

It is important to get an accurate diagnosis as quickly as possible to make sure that the condition does not worsen. The best way to do this is by visiting your doctor and, if possible, getting a referral to a specialized care provider. One doctor that specifically treats spinal stenosis is a neurologist.

Some ways that your doctor can assess whether you have the condition is through physical examination, inquiring about your symptoms, reviewing your medical history, or conducting imaging tests.