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Symptoms of Spinal Stenosis

There may be no symptoms of spinal stenosis, or symptoms may appear slowly and get worse over time. More often, people experience numbness, weakness, cramping, or general pain in the arms or legs. If the narrowed space within the spine is pushing on a nerve root, people may feel pain radiating down the leg (sciatica). Sitting or flexing the lower back should relieve symptoms. (The flexed position "opens up" the spinal column, enlarging the spaces between vertebrae at the back of the spine.) Flexing exercises are often advised, along with stretching and strengthening exercises.

One type of spinal stenosis, cauda equine syndrome, is very serious. This type occurs when there is pressure on nerves in the lower back. Symptoms may include:

Loss of control of the bowel or bladder

Problems having sex

Pain, weakness, or loss of feeling in one or both legs.

Cauda equina syndrome is a serious condition requiring urgent medical attention.