What is neurogenic claudication?

Neurogenic claudication is a term to describe the discomfort or mobility problems in the lower back or legs caused by nerve compression. This typically is due to a condition in the lumbar (lower) spine or the sacrum, which connects the base of the spine to the pelvis. “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) and are often worsened by extended periods of walking or standing. These symptoms can include:

  • Pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Cramping
  • Numbness

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

How neurogenic claudication develops

Nerve compression within the lumbar or sacral regions of the spine is commonly caused by spinal stenosis, which is the narrowing of the nerve pathways in the spinal column. To find the source of neurogenic claudication, doctors will typically look for a degenerative condition that is causing this narrowing and resulting nerve compression. These conditions commonly include:

  • Ligament hypertrophy — 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 spinal 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 course 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 weeks or months of conservative treatment, your doctor may recommend you see a surgical specialist to learn about your options for surgery. If you have reached this point, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about the benefits of our minimally invasive spine surgery. We offer patients a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery. ^

To treat your degenerative condition, we perform minimally invasive decompression surgery and minimally invasive stabilization surgery that is our outpatient approach to spinal fusion procedures. Our 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 more severe conditions are recommended for stabilization surgery to relieve nerve compression and provide needed spinal stability.

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