Lumbar spinal stenosis is a common cause of low back and leg pain. It occurs when the space around the nerve roots narrows. This puts pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots and may cause pain, numbness, or weakness in the legs. Degenerative changes and arthritis that occur over long periods of time are the most common cause of spinal stenosis. Arthritis can result as the disc degenerates and loses water content.
When discs dry out and weaken, they can collapse or settle resulting in two different but related things. First, more weight is transferred to the small joints in the back of the spine called facet joints. As the facets experience more pressure, they also develop arthritis and eventually become bone rubbing on bone.
This results in bone spur overgrowth that can narrow the space for nerves to pass through causing pressure on them. Another response to arthritis in the lower back is that the ligaments around the joints can increase in size due to inflammation, also narrowing the space for nerves to pass through. Once the space has become small enough to irritate spinal nerves, painful symptoms can result.
Watch the video below to learn more about lumbar stenosis.