A Patient's Guide to Neurogenic Claudication

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What is Neurogenic Claudication?

This is not a condition, but a complication most commonly associated with lumbar spinal stenosis. It refers to the discomfort and pain in the buttocks, lower back, and legs that occurs after the patient has been walking. Patients will notice a relief in their pain by sitting. This form of claudication was distinguished from the vascular form in 1911. This complication stems from the nerves.

Occurrence

This complication is most often seen in adults age 50 and older. It tends to affect men more often that it affects women. Patients who experience this complication will experience it for the rest of their life and it is often progressive.

What is Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?

Lumbar spinal stenosis is affects the lower back. It is a condition in which the lumbar spinal canal becomes narrowed. This narrowing occurs when tissue or bone growth leads to a reduction in the size of the spinal bone openings. As the spinal canal becomes more narrow, the nerves branching out of the spinal canal can be irritated and squeezed. In some cases, the spinal cord itself can be irritated and squeezed. The squeezing and irritation often leads to numbness, pain, or weakness that most often affects the feet, legs, and buttocks.

Treatment

Treating neurogenic claudication often involves a combination of therapies. In the beginning, many patients will be able to control their symptoms with pain management techniques, physical therapy, and other non-surgical techniques. Pain management often consists of medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, nerve pain medications, and narcotic analgesics. As a patient’s symptoms become too painful, or progress, a surgical procedure referred to as surgical decompression may be their best option. This surgical procedure is performed to widen the spinal canal. Patients will often notice an alleviation of their symptoms when their lumbar spinal stenosis is well-managed.

Resources

WebMD. (2008). Lumbar Spinal Stenosis. Retrieved on December 19, 2009 from WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/back-pain/tc/lumbar-spinal-stenosis-topic-overview

Dr. Fessler, R. G. & Dr. Khoo, L. T. (2009). Symptoms of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis. Retrieved on December 19, 2009 from Spine Universe: https://www.spineuniverse.com/displayarticle.php/article2766.html

Ramachandran, T.S. (2001). Lumbar Spinal Stenosis and Neurogenic Claudication. Retrieved on December 19, 2009 from Neurology Medlink: https://www.medlink.com/medlinkcontent.asp