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Lumbar spinal stenosis
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Lumbar spinal stenosis

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Contributors: Phillip Mongiovi MD, Richard L. Barbano MD, PhD
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


Lumbar spinal stenosis refers to a narrowed lumbar spinal canal. Causes include congenital forms from achondroplasia or developmental spine deformities, and acquired forms from degenerative diseases, trauma, spine surgery, Paget disease, or metabolic disorders such as osteoporosis or hypoparathyroidism. The most common of these causes are degenerative changes, including spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis.

Spinal stenosis is frequently asymptomatic but may lead to neurogenic claudication. Symptoms of neurogenic claudication include pain in the legs and/or lower back that develops with walking or standing for an extended period of time, usually relieved by leaning forward or sitting down. Pain may be associated with numbness or weakness.

When spinal stenosis is associated with neural foraminal narrowing and radiculopathy, focal weakness, sensory loss, and reflex changes may occur. Age is a risk factor for the development of lumbar spinal stenosis. Spinal stenosis is frequently incidentally found on MRI and asymptomatic.

Related topic: Cervical spinal stenosis


M48.061 – Spinal stenosis, lumbar region without neurogenic claudication

18347007 – Spinal stenosis of lumbar region

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Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

  • Musculoskeletal back pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Peripheral polyneuropathy
  • Spinal dural vascular malformations
  • Vascular claudication – Activity-based pain, as opposed to posture-related pain of spinal stenosis.
  • Myopathy with proximal leg weakness

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Last Reviewed: 09/10/2018
Last Updated: 09/10/2018
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Lumbar spinal stenosis
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Lumbar spinal stenosis : Gait disturbance, Leg pain, Low back pain, Muscle weakness, Numbness, Paresthesias, Buttock pain
Copyright © 2020 VisualDx®. All rights reserved.