Neurogenic Claudication Definition

So, what is the neurogenic claudication definition?

It seems like an unpronounceable scientific phrase to describe back pain that spreads into the legs, but there you have it. Neurogenic means “of the nerves”. Claudication literally means limping. So you have a phrase describing walking unevenly due to pain stemming from the nerves in the back. Continue reading to better understand the neurogenic claudication definition.

Several components make up neurogenic claudication. We'll walk you through it, you should pardon the pun, step by step. It is necessary to understand where the problem originates, so people can better describe their symptoms to their doctor.

The Spine

Understanding the neurogenic claudication definition: Walking upright, supporting movement and bearing weight means the spine has a lot of work to do. Add aging to the equation, and you have a body part some of whose components are about to cave in. The spinal cord, much like wiring, is contained inside a cover. This cover is formed by vertebrae, stacked like poker chips. Between them are gel-filled discs that act as shock absorbers. Nerves enter the equation at each disc, running from the spinal cord inside the stack of chips.

The spine is divided into five areas, beginning with the cervical at the neck and going down into the coccyx at the tailbone. The area of the spine we're concerned with is the lumbar spine or lower back. Each nerve corresponds to a part of the body, controlling or causing pain as the case may be. Should the thoracic spine, for example, be involved, pain would be felt in the shoulders, shoulder blades or arms.

The lumbar spine controls or is the cause of pain in the buttocks, hips, and legs. A pinched nerve is just a phrase to someone who doesn't feel it. Those who do, however, only know they can't walk properly, or there is pain in the hips and buttocks.

Where aging enters the picture

More ordinarily called spinal stenosis, claudication is sometimes caused by the narrowing of the spinal cord due to aging. As the body ages, gravity kicks in. The vertebrae become closer together when the gel in the discs dries out. They rub together, which means arthritis. This is what narrows the spine, putting more pressure on the nerves.

Also involved are the ligaments getting thicker, discs that bulge and bone spurs. These, too, impinge on the nerves in the lumbar spine. This impingement causes muscle weakness, muscle spasms, numbness, tingling or pain in the hips, buttocks, and legs.

What helps the pain?

Would you believe sitting down or bending over helps relieve the pain? When standing, the spine encounters the nerves. Standing and walking makes the pain worse. However, when sitting or bending over, the vertebrae have space between them. The nerves can breathe, so to speak. Walking with a walker that has wheels will help with the pain, as bending over to grasp the walker's handlebars puts distance between the spine and its discs.

A doctor will first prescribe pain medication and anti-inflammatories in addition to physical therapy. These are temporary fixes in case the pain and the condition don't last too long.

What if they do last longer?

Neurogenic claudication or spinal stenosis is a chronic condition. While it can't be completely cured, the pain it causes can be mitigated. Physical therapy includes exercises that stretch the spine, thereby easing the cause of the pain.

These exercises, once given by a physical therapist, can be done at home on the person's own time and ability. However, these things help to some extent, but surgery helps more:

This is spinal tap

Injections into the site of the nerve damage help a lot. The doctor will inject lidocaine for pain and corticosteroids for inflammation. Studies have shown that people injected with lidocaine over those injected with both showed less pain for a longer time, moved better, and fewer side effects.


Laminectomy is when the doctor removes the bone spur impacting the spinal nerve. It only takes about three days in hospital, and people are usually back at work within two weeks. It's that simple.


Just as the name implies, the offending bone spur is removed. Two discs are removed and replaced with a bone-like material. This effectively immobilizes the area, which means the person won't be able to bend over as far as he once could. This surgery has its disadvantages:

  • Muscle loss due to the six weeks' recovery period. Physical therapy will be needed
  • The vertebrae above and beneath the fusion will have more stress on them, thereby causing future problems
  • Only recommended for those with degenerative spots or really bad arthritis

Understood: neurogenic claudication definition.

Last Reviewed:
July 19, 2017
Last Updated:
October 25, 2017
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