Spinal stenosis and neurogenic claudication

Spinal stenosis, or a narrowing of the spinal canal, can cause a number of uncomfortable symptoms, including pain, muscle weakness and spasms, numbness and tingling. When this condition affects the lumbar (lower) region of the spine, individuals may also experience neurogenic claudication, which is discomfort and limited mobility in the lower extremities associated with limping.

If you have been diagnosed with spinal stenosis and are experiencing these symptoms, you know how difficult and life altering they can be. Being unable to move and being in pain all the time can make work, fun and family time extremely difficult. Information is one of the best tools you can use as you work with your primary care physician to develop a care plan to get you back to a more normal life.

What causes spinal stenosis and neurogenic claudication?

Both spinal stenosis and neurogenic claudication can be caused by a number of underlying spinal conditions. These usually develop due to degenerative changes that occur as we age. Following years of wear from everyday activities such as walking, sitting and standing, the spine can begin to deteriorate, making individuals susceptible to developing spine conditions like the following:

Many of these degenerative conditions do not cause symptoms, but because the spine is so tightly constructed, if displaced anatomy puts pressure on a nerve root or the spinal cord itself, pain and mobility issues can occur.

Claudication actually comes from the Latin term for limping, but generally refers to the issues that cause limping, such as pain, cramping, numbness and weakness. This generally occurs in the buttocks, legs and calves. The neurogenic part of the term means that it is nerve related, usually being caused by nerve compression from spinal stenosis in the lumbar region.

How to find relief

Many patients find relief from neurogenic and vascular claudication by sitting down or stooping. These activities tend to cause the spine to bend outward, which stretches the spine and can relieve compressed nerves. Other treatments, such as pain medication, physical therapy, hot/cold compresses, chiropractic adjustments and acupuncture can also provide relief. Always consult your doctor when planning treatment for any condition.

Surgery becomes an option for spinal stenosis when weeks or months of conservative options do not bring an improvement in symptoms. Traditional open back procedures are one way to treat nerve compression, but they involve hospitalization, large incisions and a long, difficult rehabilitation period.

Laser Spine Institute offers a minimally invasive alternative to traditional spine surgery that uses a smaller incision and a series of dilating tubes to access the spine and decompress nerves. These outpatient procedures result in a shorter recovery time,^ less scarring and a lower risk of infection.

Contact us to learn more and for a no-cost MRI review* to see if you may be a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery.