Medication for neurogenic claudication

Neurogenic claudication — which means limping caused by a nerve-related condition — is a series of symptoms often caused by narrowing of nerve passageways in the lumbar (lower) spine. The restricted space in the spine can have a number of underlying causes, but the result is often painful compression of a spinal nerve that results in muscle weakness, numbness, tingling and shooting pain in the lower body, including the legs.

These symptoms can be disruptive to your life, taking you away from the people and activities you love. Along with other conservative treatments like rest, ice and physical therapy, medication is often recommended by doctors to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. There are many different types of medications for neurogenic claudication treatment and some of them carry risks, so in addition to always consulting with your doctor, it is important to educate yourself about the full range of options available to you.

Causes of neurogenic claudication

Lumbar spinal stenosis occurs mainly because of age. Gradual wear, combined with the progressive loss of water, weakens the moving parts of the spine, such as the joints and discs. Bulging or herniated discs and arthritic bone spurs can cause narrowing (stenosis) of the already tight nerve pathways in the spine, which can cause symptoms like neurogenic claudication.

Should I try medication?

As with any spinal condition, pain medication may be an effective treatment, but you should always check with your physician before taking any drugs. Medications used to treat neurogenic claudication include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Drugs like naproxen sodium and ibuprofen are commonly recommended to relieve this condition. The anti-inflammatory properties can calm irritated nerves and surrounding tissues.
  • Muscle relaxants. Muscle relaxants can loosen muscles and aid in tension relief.
  • Nerve root blocks. Opioid or steroid injections directly on or near a pinched nerve root often provide immediate relief from pain. These injections can also aid in diagnosing whether a specific nerve root is causing symptoms.
  • Epidural steroid injection. Steroids are injected into the epidural space surrounding the spinal cord, reducing inflammation and pain. The weeks or months of relief provided can allow a patient to engage in exercise and complete a course of physical therapy that they otherwise would not have been able to.
  • Antidepressants and anti-seizure drugs. Recently, the uses of anti-depressants and anti-seizure drugs have been found to be effective for neurogenic claudication treatment. The medications work to dampen pain signals.

When to consider surgery

Some peoples’ symptoms may be alleviated through medications, while other people may continue to experience mild to severe pain, along with cramping, weakness and tingling in the legs and lower back. Surgery may become a serious option after conservative treatments are exhausted without an improvement in symptoms.

Contact Laser Spine Institute if you are dealing with chronic neck or back pain but have concerns about the risks and difficulties of traditional open spine procedures. We can help you learn more about our minimally invasive spine surgery that offers patients a faster recovery time^ with less risk of complication than traditional open neck or back surgery.

To find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures, our dedicated team of Spine Care Consultants can tell you how to receive a no-cost MRI review.*