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Lumbar Spinal Stenosis (cont.)

What Increases Your Risk

The risk of having lumbar spinal stenosis increases if you:

  • Are older than age 50.
  • Have a history of spinal injury.
  • Have arthritis of the spine, which can damage the joints.
  • Have a bone disease that may soften the spinal bones or cause calcium deposits to form. Examples include:
  • Are born with spondylolysis.
  • Have an abnormally narrow spinal canal, which may be inherited or may develop in curvature of the spine (scoliosis).
  • Have a genetic (inherited) disorder in which the bones of the arms and legs don't grow to normal size and the vertebrae of the spine don't grow normally (achondroplastic dwarfism).
  • Have had lower back surgery, which may cause scarring that puts pressure on the spinal nerves. Progressive spinal stenosis may occur, even after successful back surgery.

When To Call a Doctor

Call or other emergency services immediately if a person has signs of damage to the spine after an injury (such as a car accident, fall, or direct blow to the spine). Signs may include severe back pain, or weakness, tingling, or numbness in one or both legs.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Leg pain is accompanied by persistent weakness, tingling, or numbness in any part of the leg from the buttock to the ankle or foot.
  • Low back pain is accompanied by vomiting and/or fever.
  • Leg pain, weakness, numbness that comes and goes (intermittent), or tingling lasts longer than 1 week even though you use home treatment.
  • You lose control of your bladder or bowels.
  • Significant back pain either does not improve or gets worse over 2 weeks.

Watchful waiting

Lumbar spinal stenosis usually gets worse gradually over months to years. If you have symptoms that come on suddenly, you may have another serious condition and should call your doctor.

If you begin to regularly have leg pain when walking and standing, call your doctor.

Who to see

The following health professionals can diagnose and treat spinal stenosis:

Specialists who can treat spinal stenosis include the following:

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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