Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

If you are tired of back pain, and leg pain from lumbar spinal stenosis, we have the answer for you right here!

senior women with low back pain getting off the couch

Do You Have Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?

Does your back hurt? 

Do you have pain shooting down your legs? 

Does it get worse the longer you walk or stand?

Do you have to lean over the cart when getting groceries?

Does sitting down take the pain away?

If you answered yes to the above questions, then...

you may have lumbar spinal stenosis.

Over the next few minutes, you will discover exactly what spinal stenosis is, why it happens, and more importantly, what you can do about it!

The Impact of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis on Your Life

Imagine waking up every day feeling trapped in your own body. Simple everyday tasks that once were effortless now feel like climbing a mountain.

Bending over to pick up groceries, climbing stairs (if you can still climb them), walking down to the parking garage, you can forget about doing yard work - all of these activities become battles against pain, stiffness, and overwhelming weakness. 

Your mind is sharper than ever, but your body is letting you down. Spinal stenosis isn't just an ailment; it's a thief that steals your independence and robs you of the joy in the activities you once loved.

How Stenosis Invades Your Daily Life

Remember when you could easily tie your shoes, and go out to get the mail, or go for a walk around the block? Lumbar spinal stenosis turns these once simple activities into sources of pain and frustration. Every step you take, every movement you make, a painful reminder that getting old sucks.

You’ve got things to do. Unfortunately stenosis doesn't care about deadlines or responsibilities. Lifting objects, or performing repetitive tasks becomes a daily torment.

The constant battle with pain and discomfort chips away at your mental and emotional health. Sure you can deal with the pain. Thats life, right? But how it is starting to affect your life. Your social life. Your autonomy…

Nights are restless, filled with tossing and turning, trying to find a position that doesn't hurt. The days are long, marked by fatigue and an ever-present fog. The joy you once found in social gatherings and hobbies fades away, replaced by a fear of movement and an overwhelming sense of helplessness. 

The never-ending pain is to much.

Will Spinal Stenosis Get Better On It’s Own?

If left untreated, spinal stenosis can be the first domino heading down a bad way.

The constant ache makes you avoid physical activities, causing your muscles to weaken and stiffen, worsening your symptoms even more. It disrupts your sleep, leaving you exhausted and unable to focus during the day.This type of pain often breeds anxiety and depression, darkening your outlook on life.

The limited mobility and persistent discomfort drives you to withdraw from social interactions and hobbies, leading to loneliness and isolation.

It doesn’t have to be this way!

Reclaim Your Life From Spinal Stenosis

Here's the silver lining: you don’t have to let stenosis dictate your life. 

Addressing stenosis early can prevent this downward spiral. Our chiropractic and massage therapy services offer non-invasive, effective ways to manage your symptoms and reclaim your well-being.

Imagine a life where you move freely without pain, where sleep is restful, and where you engage in activities you love without fear. 

It is possible! 

Even if it wont all go away, how would your life look if it we could improve your situation by 20%? 50%? 80%? These are realistic goals, and we help people get there all the time.

Lets explore what you need to do if you are struggling with back pain, and leg symptoms from lumbar spinal stenosis. 

What Is Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?

Stenosis means narrowing. Lumbar spinal stenosis means narrowing in the lumbar spine (lower back).

Easy enough, right? Well not so fast…

You see, the purpose of the spine is to allow for movement, and to protect the spinal cord, and nerves that travel to our bodies.

The nerves travel through holes in the spine - the central canal for the spinal cord, and the spinal foramen for the spinal nerves. Traveling alongside the nerves and spinal cord are the blood vessels which provide oxygen.

These tissues must be able to move through the holes smoothly, without resistance.

When the nerves get ‘stuck’ or ‘caught’, this can cause pain, numbness, tingling and weakness traveling into your legs.

Lumbar spinal stenosis typically affects those over 60, because it develops over a long period of time. Although I have personally seen people in their W’s with spinal stenosis as well.

Arthritic changes, disc herniations, spurring and the like occur within the spinal canal, and spinal foramen.

Normally these holes allow the nerves to move easily. When they start to narrow from these arthritic changes, that movement can become more challenging.

When does Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Cause Pain?

You aren’t going to like this answer.

The exact point when does stenosis become severe enough to actually cause symptoms such as pain, numbness, tingling and weakness is different for each person.

But first, it is important to understand that stenosis is an imaging finding. It describes what is STRUCTURALLY happening.

The clinical diagnosis associated with lumbar spinal stenosis is called neurogenic claudication.

Neurogenic Claudication Due To Lumbar Stenosis

Neurogenic claudication describes pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness in your legs that happens when you walk or stand for a long time. It gets better when you sit down or bend forward.

Not only does it get better sitting down, it gets better within just a few minutes.

Why Does Neruogenic Claudication Happen?

Neurogenic claudication happens because of two reasons. 

  1. The nerves in your lower spine are being squeezed the longer you are walking and standing. 
  2. Congestion causes ischemia (no blood flow, therefore no oxygen) to the nerves. Resulting in pain, numbness, tingling, weakness. 

When you sit down, your spine flexes, which opens these holes. This allows the nerves to move more freely, and allows for adequate blood flow again, reversing the ischemia.

Symptoms of neurogenic claudication include:

  • Leg Pain: It can feel like aching, burning, or cramping.
  • Numbness and Tingling: You might feel this in your legs or feet.
  • Weakness: Your legs might feel weak or tired.
  • Relief with Rest: Sitting down or bending forward often makes the symptoms go away.

Lets take a few looks at the progression of spinal stenosis, causing neurogenic claudication.

Progression of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Phase 1: This image we can see a perfectly normal x ray of the low back (lumbar spine)

Phase 2: This image has a moderate amount of arthritic changes, and the central canal and foramen are slightly narrowed.

Phase 3: This image has severe amount of changes causing a degree of stenosis

Phase 4: Very severe stenosis with neural impingement.

Typically by the time people come to see us, they are in phase 3 or 4. Ideally we would love to see them in phase 1. This way we could get a head start to try and STOP the progression to phase 2, 3 and 4. 

However, people being people…we typically wait until things are BAD before we go for help. The good news is that we specialize in addressing spinal stenosis through effective non-invasive procedures and therapies.

Phase 1

MRI of lumbar spine (low back) with some disc bulges without stenosis.

MRI of a lumbar spine sagital view with disc bulges but no spinal stenosis

Phase 2

Moderate to advanced arthritis and disc herniations with central canal stenosis.

MRI of lumbar spine sagital view, T2 weighted image with mod to severe  arthritis and disc herniation causing spinal stenosis

Typically by the time people come to see us, they having symptoms. Ideally we would love to see them before problems occur! This way we could get a head start to try and STOP the progression. 

However, people being people…we typically wait until things are BAD before we go for help. The good news is that we specialize in addressing spinal stenosis through effective non-invasive procedures and therapies.

The Consequences of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

While stenosis may not always cause immediate problems - it develops over years - it's important to understand the potential consequences if left untreated. The constant pressure on tissues can lead to:


This is the most common symptom of stenosis. The pain can be sharp, dull, or a burning sensation, depending on the location and severity of the narrowing. The pain is often in the back, but worse is the nerve pain in either one or both of the legs.

woman sitting with back pain, and doctor standing behind her feeling her back

Numbness and Tingling

When nerves are compressed, they can send abnormal signals, resulting in numbness, tingling, or a pins-and-needles sensation in your legs and feet.

man sitting on bed holding his numb foot and ankle

Muscle Weakness

Chronic compression can weaken the muscles controlled by the affected nerves. This can clearly impact your ability to perform daily activities.

Man working out to improve his weakness

Loss of Balance and Coordination

In severe cases of spinal stenosis you may experience difficulty walking, maintaining balance, and coordinating movements. Stenosis can lead to sensory problems, which of course can lead to balance problems.

elderly woman who has fallen

How To Treat Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Without Surgery

To be succinct, there are 3 main problems with lumbar spinal stenosis.

  1. Narrowing of the holes where the nerves and blood vessels are traveling
  2. Global and local deconditioning of the muscles in the surrounding area.
  3. Nerve’s become ‘stuck’

Let’s attack these problems one at a time.

How To Treat Narrowing Holes Without Surgery?

Imagine you are driving on the Anthony Henday - the highway circling Edmonton. It’s three lanes of traffic, and you are cruising! 

While it is quite busy - Monday morning traffic into work - everyone is driving fast, and safely. Yes I realize this is Edmonton, and this is already becoming unbelievable, but just stay with me for a minute.

What happens when there is construction up ahead, and three lanes of traffic is narrowed down to one?


The same thing happens in your spine!

When you are sitting down your spine is flexed, and the holes in your spine are more open. This provides the nerves and vascular structures traveling through these holes more room to breath.

When you stand up and walk the holes become narrow because your spine is relatively extended. 

It reduces the ‘lanes’ in your back down from 3 to 2. The longer you walk, run, or do whatever you are doing with your spine in an extended position, ,the more you use your muscles, the more demand for oxygen and blood flow (more traffic).

This causes more and more congestion in your spine, leading to ischemia (no oxygen) to the neuromuscular structures. This leads to pain in your back, and in your legs.

And now that the nerves and muscles in your leg are no longer getting the oxygen they need, they start to cramp, create adhesions, tingle, become numb , and become intolerable.

We cannot change the structure of your back

However we can change how it functions.

When your spine has stenosis there will typically be coinciding joint restriction, adhesions, and inflammation.

This wonderful concoction of problems , along with structural narrowing is what makes things cause pain, and neural pain and inflammation.

Step One In Treating Lumbar Spinal Stenosis
What to Do With Narrowed Holes

The focus of non-surgical, non-invasive therapy is to help with these functional problems. If we can mobilize the spine so that it moves more appropriately, and flexes, this can open up the holes.

Please don’t mis-under what I’m saying. We aren’t permanently making those holes larger - that can only be done surgically.

But if we can get the spine to flex, get rid of those adhesions, and joint restriction it will help! It will stop the congestion, eliminate the ischemia and get you back on your feet dancing.

Step Two In Treating Lumbar Spinal Stenosis 

Global and Local Reconditioning

When dealing with lumbar spinal stenosis or claudication, muscle health plays a big role. When there is pain, often there will be less activity, and less muscle contraction. This can cause muscle weakness, and fatty infiltration. This is called de-conditioning. 

De-conditioning will often happen both globally (throughout the whole body) and locally in the lower back, hips and legs.

What is De-conditioning?

Muscle de-conditioning is when there is a loss of muscle strength and endurance. This can happen when you’re not able to move around as much due to pain or discomfort. This is why conditions such as lumbar spinal stenosis often is accompanied by deconditioning.

Symptoms of De-conditioning:

  • Fatigue: You get tired more easily.
  • Weakness: You might feel weak.
  • Decreased Stamina: Activities that used to be easy, like walking or climbing stairs, become harder.
  • Pain and Stiffness: Muscles might feel sore or stiff, making movement difficult.
  • Reduced Mobility: It becomes harder to move. Bending your back or walking becomes challenging.
  • Loss of Coordination: Difficulty in performing smooth, controlled movements.
  • Fatty infiltration: Fatty tissues start to inter web  within the muscle tissue, making things harder to bounce back from.

Why Does De-conditioning Happen?

The phrase “If you don’t use it, you loose it” is very appropriate here. De-conditioning happens because muscles need regular use to stay strong and healthy. When pain or discomfort makes you less active, your muscles don’t get the exercise they need.

How Can We Help?

At our clinic, we focus on both preventing and reversing muscle de-conditioning with personalized treatment plans, including:

  • Chiropractic Care: To improve spinal movement and reduce pain, making it easier for you to stay active.
  • Massage Therapy: To reduce muscle tension and improve blood flow, promoting muscle health.
  • Exercise Programs: Tailored exercises to strengthen specific muscles and improve overall fitness.

If you do not address both global and local de-conditioning  that has taken place, you are not going to get anywhere fast. A conditioning program is a key element for anyone dealing with lumbar spinal stenosis. 

We help you regain strength and mobility, so you can return to your daily activities and improve your quality of life. Don’t let de-conditioning  keep you down! Get reconditioned, and when your ready, we can help.

Step Three: Getting off your nerves

When nerves get "stuck" or compressed, it can cause a lot of pain and discomfort. This problem is often referred to as nerve entrapment. Here’s what you need to know about this condition and how we can help treat it.

What is Nerve Entrapment?

Nerve entrapment happens when a nerve is compressed or trapped by surrounding tissues, such as muscles, tendons, or bones. In lumbar spinal stenosis, those holes are narrowed. This makes it easier for nerves to become compressed, or ‘stuck’.

This pressure on the nerve can lead to various symptoms, including pain, tingling, numbness, and muscle weakness.

Why Do Nerves Get Stuck?

Stenosis often it develops gradually over a lifetime. So the onset of nerve compression is slow. As stenosis progresses over time, chemical and structural changes occur to the nerve.

At first these symptoms are minimal. As time goes on, adhesions form, the nerves lose their flexibility, and chemical irritants develop.

These changes go unnoticed as there are minimal or symptoms at all. However, this happens over YEARS! Gradually worsening.

This means that the nerve gradually lose their ability to glide over time. Slowly adhesions start to form due to the lack of movement. 

They form between the nerves, and the surrounding tissues. They also form within the nerves themselves. You see, nerves need to ‘telescope’ in and out of themselves. If they didn’t, there would be ‘slack’ nerves drooping everywhere. This doesn’t happen.

Once enough adhesions form, the nerve doesn’t glide. This can cause pain when stretched. It can also lead to spontaneous neural activity, and neural sensitization - the nerves randomly become excited and become more sensitive to pain. 

Coincidently (perhaps not?!) these are two of the mechanisms in development of chronic pain

We need to make sure this does not happen to the nerves. This is where nerve flossing comes in.

Nerve flossing is easiest described in video, so please watch the following video I put together for you: 


Insert Video

How does chiropractic and massage help with lumbar spinal stenosis?

We must do three things for people with lumbar spinal stenosis:

  1. Improve flexion mobility within the spine.
  2. Recondition a decondition spine and body.
  3. Improve nerve mobility.

Chiropractic care can be a very useful tool used to treat lumbar spinal stenosis without surgery. It is even effective for those who have had surgery (post surgical treatment!).

But how does it work?

First your chiropractor is going to do a through examination. We utilize the Holistic Health Evaluation TM. With this method we examine a person holistically. That means evaluating you from head to toe! Not just your lower back.

While not everyone has issues everywhere, often time the root problem isn’t where the pain is.

Next, the chiropractor may perform various manual therapies such as myofascial release therapy, chiropractic adjustments, mobilization, neural mobilization, shockwave therapy and more. These methods can help drastically reduce your pain. 

When you have less pain, you are actually able to exercise, and do the self care management strategies that you need to do!

Our chiropractors will also help guide you along on your exercises that you should be doing. Remember, we need to ‘recondition’ your back and your body. Unfortunately the only way to get conditioned is to do the work!

Our massage therapists treat those suffering with lumbar spinal stenosis. They help keep your muscles supple, mobile, and relaxed. This helps allow your muscles to get the most out of your exercise and conditioning program.

Both chiropractic care and massage therapy will help improve mobility, promote healing, and help you feel better. 

Stenosis can feel overwhelming. To quote a patient from earlier today “[Stenosis] is very unpleasant”. Quite the understatement!

But, there is good news! 

Our doctors and therapists offer effective non-invasive approach to managing your symptoms and promoting healing through chiropractic care and massage therapy.

Communication and Collaboration With Your Healthcare Team

We believe in open communication and collaboration throughout your treatment journey. We will discuss your progress regularly, answer any questions you may have, and adjust your treatment plan as needed to ensure optimal results.

For those with more advanced stenosis, and nerve pain, medication prescribed by your medical doctor may need to be required. While this clearly wont ‘fix’ lumbar stenosis, it can help with the pain.

If we can minimize your pain, you can exercise more and lead a better life. 

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Take Control of Your Well-being

Our Commitment to Your Recovery:

Our ultimate goal is to help you achieve long-term relief from stenosis symptoms and empower you to manage your condition effectively. We are committed to providing you with a supportive and personalized approach to healing, allowing you to regain control of your health and return to the activities you enjoy.

Stenosis doesn't have to dictate your life!

By taking a proactive approach, you can manage your symptoms and experience significant improvement in your overall well-being. 

Schedule an appointment to take control, today!

Three Ways We Can Help Right Now

1. Schedule Your Appointment Today: Don't wait any longer. Take the first step towards a pain-free future.

2. Schedule your FREE 15 Minute Recovery Blueprint phone call with a chiropractic orthopaedic specialist ($200 value).