My mother is 65 and has started to have trouble walking, especially uphill. Her back looks stooped, and she says it hurts to stand up straight. Why is this?

This new problem may have to do with your mother’s low back. A condition called lumbar spinal stenosis–or LSS–is a common condition for people over 60. LSS is essentially a compression of the nerves in the base of the spinal canal. This compression causes a host of symptoms, such as numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness. However, two telltale symptoms of LSS that cause difficulty walking are low back pain and problems with balance.

A recent study showed that the majority of people with LSS had pain walking uphill. This may be due to added pressure on sensitive structures in the spine, such as discs.

A physical exam will give more specific information about your mother’s condition. She’ll want to see a doctor to find out what’s causing her pain and what she can do about it.