Skip to main content

Lumbar Stenosis

What is Lumbar Stenosis?

Lumbar spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal that compresses the nerves and blood vessels at the level of the lumbar vertebrae. In people who have it, the spine is narrowed in one or more places: the space at the center of the spine, the canals where nerves branch out from the spine, and/or the space between the bones of the spine. The narrowing puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves and can cause pain.

What You Can Expect at UTHealth Neurosciences

At UTHealth Neurosciences, we first investigate options for nonsurgical treatment, including medical management, pain management, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and watchful waiting. When surgery is needed, our neurosurgeons routinely employ innovative minimally invasive techniques. Throughout the treatment process, our team works closely with the doctor who referred you to ensure a smooth transition back to your regular care plan. While you are with us, you can expect expert care, excellent communication, and genuine compassion.

Causes of Lumbar Stenosis

While lumbar stenosis may affect younger patients, it is most often caused by degeneration of the spine associated with aging. It may also be caused by arthritis, inherited conditions, tumors of the spine, injuries, or calcium deposits on ligaments that run along the spine.

Early Signs of Lumbar Stenosis and Diagnosis

Signs of lumbar stenosis may vary from none to mild to severe, or they may appear slowly and worsen over time. Symptoms that support a diagnosis of lumbar stenosis are age; radiating leg pain that worsens with prolonged standing or walking and is relieved by sitting, lying down, or bending forward at the waist; numbness, weakness, pain, or cramping in the legs; and a wide stance when walking. Other clues are weakness or decreased sensation in the legs, decreased reflexes in the legs, and balance difficulties, all of which are strongly associated with lumbar spinal stenosis. In severe cases, lumbar stenosis may cause loss of bladder and bowel control.

Our spine specialists diagnose lumbar stenosis based on your history of symptoms, a physical exam, and imaging tests that may include X-rays, CT scan, or MRI.


Your physician may recommend anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation and relieve pain; physical therapy; or corticosteroid or anesthetic injections administered by an interventional pain management specialist.

Surgery may be considered for people who have difficulty walking or problems with bowel or bladder control. The traditional treatment is lumbar laminectomy, also called decompression surgery, or minimally invasive lumbar laminectomy.

The UTHealth Neurosciences Spine Center brings together a multidisciplinary team of board-certified, fellowship-trained neurosurgeons, neurologists, researchers, and pain management specialists who work together to help provide relief for even the most complex problems. People who suffer from radiculopathy, spondylosis, spinal stenosis, herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, peripheral nerve disorders, spinal cord injury, or other trauma benefit from our collaborative expertise in managing spine disorders. Before recommending surgery, your physician team will investigate options for nonsurgical treatment, including medical management, interventional pain management, physical therapy, and watchful waiting when appropriate.

Spine Disease and Back Pain

Contact Us

At UTHealth Neurosciences, we offer patients access to specialized neurological care at clinics across the greater Houston area. To ask us a question, schedule an appointment, or learn more about us, please call (713) 486-8100, or click below to send us a message. In the event of an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.

Contact Us

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.