What is neurogenic claudication?

Neurogenic claudication is a term to describe the discomfort in the lower back or legs caused by nerve compression in the lumbosacral spine (lower back). “Neurogenic” means that the symptoms are related to a nerve, and “claudication” — which is Latin for “limp” — refers to cramping or weakness in the legs.

Symptoms can be experienced bilaterally (both legs) or unilaterally (one leg), often are exacerbated by extended periods of walking or standing, and generally worsen over time. These symptoms can include:

  • Pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Cramping
  • Numbness

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms for longer than a week, you should schedule an appointment with your physician to determine the cause of your nerve compression and the treatment options available to you.

How neurogenic claudication develops

Nerve compression within the lumbar (lower back) or sacral (pelvic) regions of the spine is commonly caused by spinal stenosis, which is the narrowing of the spinal canal or the canals through which nerve roots exit the spine. Spinal stenosis is often a result of a degenerative condition in the spine that has caused a section of the spine to protrude into the spinal canal, thereby narrowing the free space in which nerve roots travel.

To find the source of your neurogenic claudication, your physician must identify the degenerative condition that is causing your nerve root to be compressed. These conditions commonly include:

  • Hypertrophic ligamentum flavum — thickening of one of the major ligaments responsible for connecting vertebrae
  • Inflamed facet joints — osteoarthritis within the joints connecting the vertebrae
  • Herniated disc — extrusion of the inner material of a disc through a tear in the disc’s outer wall
  • Bulging disc — protrusion of a portion of the outer wall of a disc
  • Osteophytes — bone spurs associated with osteoarthritis
  • Spondylolisthesis — slippage of one vertebra over another

What to do about neurogenic claudication

Many patients experiencing the early stages of neurogenic claudication find short-term relief through stooping, sitting or bending forward at the waist. This provides temporary relief by stretching out the spine and relieving pressure on the pinched nerve in the lower back.

For more lasting relief, your doctor may recommend a regimen of nonsurgical therapy to try to reduce the pressure on your pinched nerve and strengthen your spine. These treatments include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Exercise
  • Stretching and yoga
  • Hot/cold therapy

If you’re still suffering from chronic pain and symptoms after several months of conservative treatment, contact Laser Spine Institute and ask about our minimally invasive spine surgery. We offer patients a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery.

To treat your degenerative condition, we offer minimally invasive decompression surgery and minimally invasive stabilization surgery. Both types of procedures allow patients to experience a shorter recovery time^ and lower risk of infection and complication than traditional open back surgery. Our minimally invasive decompression surgery is the most commonly used procedure for our patients with neurogenic claudication. However, some patients with this condition are recommended for stabilization surgery, which helps to add stability and strength to the spine.

Find out if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery by contacting Laser Spine Institute today and requesting a review of your MRI report or CT scan.