How Serious Is Lumbar and Spinal Stenosis and a Herniated Disk?


Quick Answer

Spinal stenosis and a herniated disk are both common conditions that usually arise in older people and are not serious enough to require surgery to repair, according to Mayo Clinic. Pain, numbness and weakness with varying degrees are common symptoms experienced by patients.

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Lumbar and spinal stenosis occurs when the open spaces in the spine become narrowed and put pressure on the nerves that travel through the spine. Many people show signs of spinal stenosis on X-ray images but do not have the symptoms. The type of symptoms are dependent on where in the spine the stenosis occurs, according to Mayo Clinic. For instance, compressed nerves due to stenosis in the lumbar area can cause pain or cramping in the legs when walking for long periods.

A herniated disk occurs when one of the rubbery disks between the vertebrae in the spine ruptures, and part of its inner gelatin-like tissue is pushed out of the exterior of the disk. Like spinal stenosis, many people with a herniated disk do not experience symptoms and do not need surgery to repair the problem. People should seek medical attention if the back pain shoots down the leg and is accompanied by numbness or tingling, recommends Mayo Clinic.

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