The X-Stop® Spacer for the symptons of lumbar spninal stenosis
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Symptoms of LSS

Lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS) is a narrowing of the spinal canal that occurs in the lower part of the spine (lumbar region).

The problem with a narrowed spinal canal is that it reduces the space allowed for nerves to branch out from the spinal cord. When a nerve in your lower back becomes pinched, you may feel various symptoms, including:

  • Pain in your lower back or legs—especially when you stand or walk
  • Pain relief when you sit, lean forward, or use a cane, walker, or shopping cart for support when you walk
  • Numbness, weakness, stiffness, or dull cramping pain in the lower back and legs
  • Painful tingling or a pins-and-needles sensation that shoots down the back of your legs
  • Weakness or fatigue that comes on quickly during activity or exercise
  • Difficulty maintaining balance

Learn more about how an LSS diagnosis is made.

In many people, LSS symptoms can limit the amount of time you can comfortably stand and can shorten the distance you can walk comfortably. Restrictions on mobility can make it difficult—or impossible—to carry out simple activities necessary for self support, such as shopping or other errands, as well as work, social, and recreational activities.

This lack of activity can lead to obesity and general physical deterioration, which may eventually result in heart disease, diabetes, and other serious health problems. Restrictions on mobility and activity may also lead to depression and other psychological problems.13

Symptoms of LSS may be categorized as mild, moderate, or severe, based on the extent of leg pain and pain-related disability.1 Your doctor will assess your symptoms in order to choose the best possible treatment.

While imaging aids, such as an X-ray or CT scan, help show your doctor the physical degree of spinal stenosis, they cannot show the degree of pain or discomfort you are experiencing. In some cases, the degree of pain or other symptoms may not relate to what the imaging aids show. You may have very severe symptoms, even though the X-ray shows relatively little narrowing of the spinal canal.

Just remember, your doctor relies on you to report information about the severity of your symptoms and how they impact your normal daily activities and quality of life in order to choose the best treatment for you.

Only a doctor or spine specialist is qualified to make an accurate LSS diagnosis. Need to find a spine specialist close to you?

Clinical terms and definitions for LSS symptoms

Generally speaking, the symptoms of LSS are known by your doctor as neurogenic intermittent claudication and sciatica. Your doctor may also refer to the standing and walking positions of the spine as extension, and sitting or bending positions as flexion.

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A doctor explains why standing causes pain.

Neurogenic intermittent claudication (NIC)

NIC refers to pain and discomfort in the low back, buttocks, and legs. Symptoms of NIC are worse while standing and walking (extension), and relieved while sitting or bending forward (flexion).

This explains why it is often easier to walk up a ramp (because your spine naturally bends forward) than it is to walk on a level surface. In fact, people with LSS often lean forward on a grocery cart while shopping to reduce their pain.


Sciatica is often misused as a catch-all name for leg pain. In medical terms, sciatica (or radiculopathy) means a spinal disc protrudes beyond its normal position and irritates the radicular nerve, which connects with the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body. It runs from each side of the lower spine through the buttocks and hip area, down the back of each leg all the way to your feet.

Sciatica is only found in a small percentage of LSS patients.

Talk to your doctor about what causes and relieves your symptoms. Your doctor may recommend tests like the “straight-leg-raise test” to determine what is causing your symptoms.
Compared to NIC

Sitting may increase symptoms of sciatica, whereas symptoms of NIC can be relieved by sitting or leaning forward.

A condition related to LSS—cauda equina syndrome

Cauda equina syndrome is caused by pressure on nerves that branch out from the bottom of the spinal column. While it causes symptoms similar to LSS, cauda equina syndrome is a more serious condition that can also result in bladder and bowel problems. If you suspect that you may have cauda equina syndrome, you should seek help immediately.

This website features a list of surgeons trained to implant the X-STOP Spacer for treatment of symptoms of LSS. Please note: the X-STOP Spacer is not indicated for the treatment of cauda equina syndrome. However, the surgeons listed on this site are experienced at treating patients with LSS. Find a spine specialist.

What is LSS?Ready for the X-STOP SpacerHow LSS impacts your life

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This treatment is prescribed by your doctor. It is not for everyone. Please talk with your doctor and see if it is right for you. Your doctor should discuss all potential benefits and risks with you. Although many patients benefit from the use of this treatment, approximately half of the patients who received the X-STOP device in the 2-year study experienced a degree of pain relief and ability to increase their activity levels that was sufficient to be considered a successful outcome at 2 years after surgery. This compares with the control group treated with non-surgical care that had a 6% successful outcome treatment success rate.15