Neurogenic claudication and aging often go hand in hand since many of the spinal conditions that cause neurogenic claudication (including spinal stenosis) develop as a result of degenerative changes that occur as a person ages. Since the spine is responsible for supporting a person’s weight, years of wear and tear can cause the elements of the spine to eventually break down. This is especially true in the cervical (neck) and lumbar (lower) regions of the spine since these areas are flexible and are in use almost constantly.
When degeneration occurs in the neck or lower back, an individual can develop a number of spinal conditions that may lead to spinal stenosis, or a narrowing of the spinal canal and foramina (nerve passageways). These conditions can include degenerative disc disease, spinal arthritis, bulging discs and herniated discs. When these conditions cause the spinal canal to narrow, nerves are susceptible to compression.
Symptoms of spinal stenosis
Compressed spinal nerves can cause an individual to experience the following symptoms:
- Pain (either dull, sharp, or burning)
- Muscle spasms and cramping
When the lumbar spine is affected, patients may also experience neurogenic claudication. This condition is marked by limping that is associated with pain in the lower back and/or extremities, and may worsen after walking or standing.
Patients often find relief from neurogenic claudication when sitting and leaning forward, which can allow the spine to stretch, thereby relieving some of the pressure on the spinal nerves. Other symptoms may be alleviated through conservative treatments, such as over-the-counter pain medications and physical therapy. If symptoms fail to subside while utilizing these non-invasive forms of treatment, patients may want to consider traditional open back surgery. Before committing to this surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about our effective outpatient procedures that may help you find relief from neck and back pain.