Claudication is muscle pain that presents when the body is active and stops when the body is at rest, also known as intermittent claudication. Individuals typically report dull aching, cramping, tingling, and/or numbness. Vascular claudication is caused by circulatory problems like poor blood circulation and peripheral artery disease. Still, spinal conditions can also cause neurogenic claudication caused by problems with the spine and nervous system.
Sciatica is the usual suspect when thigh, hip, buttock, calf, or total leg pain or other sensations are present; however, it could be spinal stenosis with neurogenic claudication. Spinal stenosis is sometimes called pseudo claudication, a narrowing of the space around the low back, which can put pressure on the spinal cord directly and compress the blood vessels around the spine, cutting off oxygen-carrying blood. Pain can start in the lower back and circulate down the legs and cause weakness, tingling, or numbness in the legs and feet. The most common areas of spinal compression include:
- The central spinal canal
- The lateral recess
- The foramen are the openings on the sides of the spine where nerves exit and connect to the peripheral nervous system.
The narrowing can occur in any of these areas, with the most common cause being lumbar spinal stenosis brought on by lumbar degenerative disease.
The most common symptoms of neurogenic claudication include:
- Pain in the lower extremities, including the buttocks, thighs, and calf, only manifests with activities like walking or standing around.
- Pain that shows up equally on both sides.
- There is no pain when sitting or not walking around.
- Radiculopathy or nerve pain that radiates down an affected limb. Sciatica is a typical example.
However, the symptoms of claudication and radiculopathy are different.
- Claudication will be felt all along the length of the nerve.
- Radiculopathy pain is more localized to the buttock, thighs, and calves and can get worse with activity and is generally present even when at rest.
Non-surgical treatment of neurogenic claudication includes medication to help control pain, chiropractic manual therapy, non-surgical spinal decompression, physical rehabilitation therapy, and steroid shots to reduce inflammation. A doctor will recommend stretching, strengthening exercises, and types of activities to help improve the body’s ability to support itself. This could include swimming, walking, and stationary cycling. However, conservative treatment might not be an option for individuals with more severe cases. If conservative treatment options don’t work, surgery could be recommended. A healthcare provider can help explain treatment options. Successful outcomes have been seen in cases that are diagnosed and treated early.
Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression Chiropractor
Colak, Ahmet, et al. “A less invasive surgical approach in the lumbar lateral recess stenosis: a direct approach to the medial wall of the pedicle.” The European spine journal: official publication of the European Spine Society, the European Spinal Deformity Society, and the European Section of the Cervical Spine Research Society vol. 17,12 (2008): 1745-51. doi:10.1007/s00586-008-0801-z
Munakomi S, Foris LA, Varacallo M. Spinal Stenosis And Neurogenic Claudication. [Updated 2022 Feb 12]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430872/
Cleveland Clinic. (2021) “Claudication.” my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21972-claudication
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