Intermittent neurogenic claudication

Intermittent neurogenic claudication is a collection of symptoms usually caused by lumbar spinal stenosis — or narrowing of the lower spine. These symptoms consist of pain, cramping and muscle weakness that causes limping in one or both of the legs when walking. Intermittent symptoms are ones that come and go at irregular and unpredictable intervals, only adding to the frustration for patients dealing with pain and limited mobility.

Symptoms of intermittent neurogenic claudication can often be traced to compression of the spinal cord or nerve root(s) in the lumbosacral region of the spine. This region includes:

  • The fourth and fifth vertebrae (L4 and L5) in the lumbar spine (lower back)
  • The fifth lumbar vertebra and the sacrum (L5 and S1)

The sacrum, a triangular bone situated between the pelvic bones, is comprised of five fused vertebrae, connecting the lower spine with the coccyx, or tailbone.


Several factors can cause nerve compression in these areas, but age is usually seen as the main cause. As we grow older, the parts of the spine — especially the joints and discs that link and cushion the vertebrae — can wear out. This wearing causes conditions like arthritis and degenerative disc disease that can narrow the spinal canal or an exiting nerve root, causing nerve compression.

The symptoms of intermittent neurogenic claudication — pain, cramping, weakness and tingling in the lower back, buttocks and legs — may be worsened when walking or standing and can appear on one or both sides of the body. When the spine is flexed by leaning forward, the spinal canal naturally widens and relieves symptoms. This is one possible explanation for the irregular nature of symptoms.

Treating intermittent neurogenic claudication

Conservative treatments such as stretching, physical therapy and pain medication can often provide effective relief from neurogenic claudication for patients to resume normal activity. If you have exhausted conservative treatment options and your neurogenic claudication becomes a constant source of pain, it might be time to consider Laser Spine Institute.

We are the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, which uses a smaller, muscle-sparing incision and offers less risk and a shorter recovery time^ compared to traditional open back procedures. To date, we have helped more than 75,000 patients get their lives back in our state-of-the-art outpatient facilities.

Contact our Care Team for a no-cost MRI review* to see if you’re a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery.