Symptoms of degenerative spinal stenosis include pain or numbness in the back, legs and buttocks; leg cramping and weakness; bowel and bladder problems; and worsening of pain during long periods of standing, according to Dartmouth-Hitchcock. It is most common in women who are over age 50.
Degenerative spinal stenosis is a painful back condition that occurs due to the narrowing of the spinal canal as the bones of the spine dry out and shrink, notes Dartmouth-Hitchcock. The condition causes the nerves in the back to become irritated in such a way as to generate pain along the back or leg. Although it is primarily caused by advancing age, it can also be caused by heredity or blood flow changes to the lumbar spine. Symptoms have many causes, and diagnosing the condition is difficult since patients often have no history of back problems or any recent injury that could lead to pain, explains WebMD. Experts often rely on the presence of unusual leg symptoms to diagnose spinal stenosis.
Treating spinal stenosis depends on the scope and severity of the condition. Medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants, antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs and opioids, are used to control pain, states Mayo Clinic. Physical therapy helps to build strength and endurance, and maintain spine flexibility and stability. In the most severe cases, patients require surgical procedures, such as a laminectomy, laminotomy or laminoplasty, to alleviate symptoms.