Neurogenic Claudication: Symptoms, Treatment

Overview

Neurogenic claudication,also called pseudoclaudication, is a condition characterized by pain induced by walking. It occurs when there is compression of the spinal nerves in the lower back or the lumbar spine.
Frequently, neurogenic claudication is confused with vascular claudication, which refers to cramping pains in the buttock or leg muscles because of impaired blood flow. Usually, people with neurogenic claudication experience pain, numbness, weakness, and muscle cramping in the legs.

According to statistics, neurogenic claudication is most often seen in people who are aged over 50 because older people are at a higher risk of developing spine arthritis.

Causes

Generally speaking, neurogenic claudication is caused by the narrowing of the spinal canal, a condition known as spinal stenosis. As people age, the spinal cord narrows because of wear and tear and arthritic changes. Under such circumstances, there may appear a bulging disc, thickening of ligaments, bone spurs and so on in the lower spine. When the stenosis compresses the nerve roots that control sensation and movement in the lower body, neurogenic claudication happens.

Neurogenic claudication may be caused by other diseases too, such as:

  • Osteophytes within the spinal canal
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Facet joint hypertrophy
  • Ossification of posterior spinal ligament
  • Vertebral column bone tumor
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Midline synovial ganglion cyst

Symptoms

Common signs and symptoms of neurogenic claudication may include the following:

  • Tired feeling
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Substantial pain in the lower spine
  • Shooting pain
  • Muscles spasm and cramping
  • Discomfort in the legs
  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Bladder and bowel incontinence
  • Heaviness

Depending on the severity of neurogenic claudication, symptoms of this condition may vary from individual to individual. Typically, the symptoms tend to be worse especially when people with the condition standing upright and walking. If sitting down and having some rest, the symptoms can be relieved temporarily.

Diagnosis

Prior to imaging tests, the doctor is likely to perform a physical examination first. In this procedure, the doctor will check the symptoms for the patient and ask about his or her medical history. This process can help the doctor to identify the condition is neurogenic claudication or vascular claudication as well.

To establish an accurate diagnosis, the doctor may order imaging tests to determine whether the condition is caused by spinal stenosis.

X-rays.

Using invisible electromagnetic energy beams, this test can produce images of the bones, helping the doctor to make an overall assessment of the bony anatomy. Bony abnormalities such as bone spurs, disc space narrowing, and fracture can also be identified on X-rays.

MRI imaging.

This procedure uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of soft tissues and bones. This test result can help the doctor to better visualize the situation and determine whether there is a bulging or herniated disc.

 CT scan.

This test uses X-rays and a computer to produce detailed images of organs, fat, and muscles. By checking the bones and soft tissues, the doctor can give a definite diagnosis.

With an accurate diagnosis, the doctor can make a customized treatment plan for people with the disease.

Treatment

Depending on the severity of the disease and the overall health of the patient, the doctor can choose the best treatment for every patient.

On the whole, there are several treatment options available.

Surgery

Basically, surgery serves as the primary treatment of choice for neurogenic claudication. The goal of the surgical procedure is to lift the pressure from the nerve roots in the lower spine. According to the specific situations, the doctor may perform different surgical procedures such as a micro discectomy, a laminectomy, and a lumbar decompression surgery.

Medications

Given that the condition can cause severe pain, people with the disease may take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen so as to ease the pain and maintain routine day-to-day activities. But these pain relievers are only for short-term use.

Taking antidepressants may also be helpful in easing chronic pain. Some anti-seizure medications such as gabapentin and pregabalin may be prescribed by the doctor as well because these drugs can reduce pain caused by damaged nerves.

Keywords: neurogenic claudication.

Related Posts:

What is Neurogenic Claudication?

What is Lumbar Spinal Stenosis?

What is Spinal Arthritis?

Degenerative Disc Disease: Symptoms, Treatment, Complications

What is Spinal Decompression?

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.