As with a herniated disc, spinal stenosis can cause back and leg pain, although the symptoms develop gradually, usually over several months or years.
Back symptoms: The patient experiences chronic back pain, usually at the waist, and especially when standing, walking or leaning backwards.
Leg symptoms: Patients may experience pain, numbness, or muscle weakness in the legs. The most common symptom is an ache or heaviness in the legs together with numbness, or a tingling feeling, like ants crawling on the legs. This happens after walking or standing for a long period of time, and will gradually disappear after sitting down or leaning forward. This is because the nerve compression is worse when the spine is extended backward. A patient with spinal stenosis cannot walk for a long period of time, such as when shopping, and they will have to sit down from time to time. In extreme cases, some patients cannot stand long enough to take a shower or brush their teeth.