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L4-L5 "Narrowing" - Some questions

MarkK1986MMarkK1986 Posts: 3
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:45 AM in Lower Back Pain

I have had some mild to moderate back pain off and on now since the summer of 2008. Shortly after it started, my doctor ordered x-rays which came back as "a slight narrowing of the L4 and L5 on the left side." The recommendation was to rest it when it flares and take anti-inflammatory medication.

Currently, over two years later and it still comes and goes. It is usually a few months between flare-ups, going from almost no pain to pain which causes a limp when not warmed up. I exercise and left weights 5-6 times a week, including back and dead lifts as well as 5 to 8 miles runs, but avoid dead lifts when this flares. Decline sit-ups also effect it as well as sitting in a low chair.

My questions are: is just something to deal with or if there might be a larger issue looming? Should I cease dead lifts all together...I don't really feel as though they are the main factor whatsoever.

Any advice about L4-L5 "narrowing" and what to expect/treatment would be much appreciated!

Thanks in advance and I am eager to hear...



  • Welcome to Spine-Health.

    That diagnosis is odd in the sense that it doesn't say "what" is narrowing. There are a few things that it could be and nobody here could possibly tell you what it is.

    Oftentimes, these things can be controlled in the way you're doing it, with anti-inflamitory medications and rest when you have a flare-up. Whether there is a larger problem looming is unknown, at least to us, but there are probably things you can do to keep a larger problem from arising.

    I've included a few below that might help answer some of your questions and concerns. I can tell you that dead lifting is very hard on your lumbar spine. That might be something you want to rethink.

    Anyway, maybe these articles will help you:




    I imagine that if your doctor recommended the treatment that you're doing, there's nothing serious happening at the moment. Otherwise you'd probably be sent for an MRI. But doing research on ways to keep your lumbar spine healthy and avoiding anything more serious from coming up might be a good idea.

    Take care and keep us posted.
  • Thanks for the information. From the articles above, I would be most likely to categorize it as degenerative disc disease. That may explain the "narrowing" as well.

    I will start to do lighter and higher rep back exercises. I think that makes the most sense considering it is important to keep strength training the back. In the mean time, I will take it day by day and do the right things when required.

  • Glad you found some good information. Also, my PT told me that keeping my core muscles strong (abdomen, stomach, etc.) helps to keep your lumbar spine healthy.

    If situps hurt, she showed me a way to use one of those big exercise balls to do situps that don't hurt your back.

    Anyway, keep working on keeping in shape.

  • you mention narrowing ..do you mean stenosis? in you spinal canal ? that's where the space is reduced and your nerves are compressed this would give you leg pain/numbness .mechanical back pain is where you have some form of arthritis and or bone damage /disease and is very painful but does not always cause leg pain .if i were you i would leave the weight along .you dont want to end up like most of us on here with pain so bad it has wrecked our lives .try swimming and if you must lift use the machine that support the weight for you and always wear a back belt ..trust me my friend if you back gives up you will be in agony and you life will change for ever ..i speak from bitter experience .you may want to try a TENS machine for you pain .see acticare for more info
  • I agree with Straker. From my personal expience doing things like dead lifts are really hard on the body. After my 1st surgery I got really heavy into exercising, which was good but... I started doing weights on the leg press and blew out a disc. I have learned over the years that you can do a lot of other exercising that will strengthen without running the risk of rupturing a disc. I don't know if you have ever considered yoga?? It is a great way to strenghten your core but there is a definate need to modify poses to not injure the lower back. You would definately want to speak with the yoga instructor before hand. Let him or her know that you've had lower back injuries and you would need to know what poses to modify. Have you done PT for your injuries? It might be something to consider the PT would know what exercises for you to avoid. Again I will say I am just speaking from personal experience I understand that everyone is different. I am not a professional!! I wish you luck on your journey...
  • Reading about Stenosis on your recommendation, I feel that is not be what I have, but am no professional myself. It says signs include pain while walking and relief sitting or leaning forward. I would say that my pain actually worsens when leaning and bending in certain ways.

    Since having first posted though, my pain has subsided substantially and is nearly gone. I have altered my workouts to include other back exercises and light high-rep deadlifts as well as extra stretching. Core training is also something I will continue. Hopefully it won't flare up for some time...
  • Hello I'm new to forums, I saw this post and I have the same problem but I do not lift weights. I want to my Doctor after slipping in my garden and falling hard on my lower back. After an X-ray the Doctor said the problem was a narrowing of the gap between the vertebrae L4 L5 and the bones were rubbing together slightly. He said it was an old problem and I started to remember past back pain, numbness in left leg and limping. My problem has got worse since my fall and I have been trying to find out more on how to help it and if there is anything to make it better. Maybe I have to put up with this but at 49 I keep thinking the bones will not be much good by the time I'm 70. I would be grateful for any information.
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