The two types of spinal stenosis are lumbar stenosis and cervical stenosis. Lumbar spinal stenosis is the more common of the two, but cervical spinal stenosis is often more dangerous since it involves compression of the spinal cord.
Comparing Lumbar Spinal Stenosis and Cervical Spinal Stenosis
- The spinal nerve roots in the lower back of a patient with lumbar stenosis are compressed (choked). This often produces symptoms of sciatica. Sciatica is a pain that originates along the sciatic nerve, which extends from the back of the pelvis down the back of the thigh.
- Cervical spinal stenosis is the name for spinal stenosis in the neck. It can be far more dangerous by compressing the spinal cord. The condition may lead to serious symptoms, which can include major body weakness or paralysis.
In rare cases, lumbar stenosis only produces leg pain that is severe, persistent and disabling, in addition to leg weakness. Most cases of lumbar stenosis, however, involve pain radiating into the leg(s) when a patient walks, and is relieved when the patient sits. This condition, called claudication, also can be caused by problems with circulation in the legs.