Surgery for neurogenic claudication and spinal stenosis

Neurogenic claudication — the group of symptoms that cause limping or difficulty walking — often develop when lumbar spinal stenosis compresses a nerve root in the lower back. If compressed with enough pressure, the pinched nerve root will send signals of pain and muscle weakness from the lower back into the buttocks, legs and feet.

The development of neurogenic claudication can greatly prevent a patient’s quality of life; simple tasks like walking or sitting for too long become painful and difficult. Without treatment, this condition may worsen.

If you have been diagnosed with lumbar spinal stenosis and neurogenic claudication, contact your physician about the conservative and surgical treatments available to you.

Conservative treatments

Many patients find relief from the symptoms of spinal stenosis with conservative treatments such as:

  • Pain medication
  • Hot/cold therapy
  • Behavior modification
  • Moderate exercise
  • Intermittent rest

These treatments should only be practiced under a physician’s guidance in order to maintain your health and safety. After several weeks or months of these treatments, you should experience a noticeable decrease in your pain and symptoms, or possibly pain relief altogether.

If you do not experience pain relief after your treatment regimen, you may be a candidate for spine surgery.

Surgical treatments

Many of the conditions that cause spinal stenosis (such as degenerative disc disease, osteophytes and bulging discs) can be treated through surgical means. Traditional open back surgeries that are used to treat these conditions include:

  • Discectomy — During this procedure, the damaged disc is removed, and the adjoining vertebrae are fused together with a bone graft.
  • Laminectomy — This procedure entails either a partial or complete removal of the lamina (a portion of the vertebrae). This serves to widen the spinal canal.

While these procedures aim to reduce the pressure on the pinched nerve, the manner in which they are performed leaves patients with an increased risk of complication and an extended recovery time. This is because each procedure requires a large incision that cuts through the muscles supporting the spine, leaving patients more susceptible to excessive blood loss and infection.

Minimally invasive procedures

Minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute offers patients a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery.^ Because we approach the spine with minimally invasive techniques, such as a small incision and no muscle disruption, our patients experience a shorter recovery time^ and lower risk of complication than patients who opt for traditional open back surgery.

Our surgical recommendation for your treatment will depend on the cause of your spinal stenosis. For example, if a bone spur is reducing the space in your spinal canal and causing nerve compression, we may recommend a minimally invasive decompression surgery to relieve the pressure on the nerve root. This type of procedure is performed through a less than 1-inch incision and simply removes a small portion of the bone spur without affecting the stability of the spine.

If your spinal stenosis is caused by a severely damaged disc, however, we may recommend a minimally invasive stabilization procedure. This simply means the surgeon will remove the damaged disc and replace it with an artificial disc and perhaps small bone grafts.

To see if you are a candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures to treat neurogenic claudication, contact Laser Spine Institute and request a review of your MRI report or CT scan.