What causes neurogenic claudication?

Neurogenic claudication is a condition that describes the limping, difficulty walking and/or leg cramping as a result of nerve compression in the lumbar (lower) spine. While this condition is sometimes caused by trauma or injury, the most common cause of neurogenic claudication is spinal stenosis, or narrowing, and other degenerative spine conditions.

By identifying the exact cause of nerve compression and neurogenic claudication in your lower back, you and your doctor can work together to find the treatment options that best fit your condition and lifestyle.

Conditions leading to neurogenic claudication

Patients with neurogenic claudication often experience trouble after extended periods of walking or standing. Symptoms typically are mild at first and become more severe as the underlying degenerative condition worsens. These degenerative conditions include:

  • Disc degeneration. Discs in the spine begin to lose water content and elasticity over time. This reduces the height of the disc, diminishing the space available for nerve roots to travel and potentially allowing the surrounding vertebrae to collide, which can lead to bone spurs and spondylolisthesis.
  • Arthritis of the spine. The facet joints, the hinges along the spine where the vertebrae meet and pivot, tend to wear down over time. This joint degeneration can reduce the space available for nerve roots to travel or cause the surrounding vertebrae to rub together.
  • Injury. Trauma caused by a fall or a collision can disrupt the spine, either directly producing symptoms or worsening existing degenerative conditions.

What to do about neurogenic claudication

If you begin to experience unexplained pain or tingling in the lower back, buttocks or legs that lasts longer than a few days or a week, see your doctor for a diagnosis.

Upon diagnosis of neurogenic claudication, doctors usually recommend a series of conservative treatments such as exercise, yoga and pain medication. These treatments are meant to reduce your symptoms, improve mobility and promote the health of the spine. However, if these symptoms continue with little or no relief for several months after conservative treatment has been started, elective spine surgery may be recommended.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive spine surgery to treat degenerative spine conditions, including ones that cause neurogenic claudication. We perform two types of minimally invasive surgery to treat this condition. Our minimally invasive decompression surgery is more commonly performed and removes a small amount of spinal anatomy that is the underlying source of nerve compression and symptoms like claudication. We also provide minimally invasive stabilization procedures that are our outpatient approach to fusion surgery.

Since 2005, our minimally invasive spine surgery has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain. Because of our minimally invasive approach to spine surgery, our patients can experience a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery.^

Find out if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery by contacting Laser Spine Institute today and asking for your free MRI review.*