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What is neurogenic claudication — and how is it treated?

Neurogenic claudication — also known as pseudoclaudication — is best defined by breaking down the two parts of its name:

  • Neurogenic: Stemming from the nervous system
  • Claudication: Leg pain, or more specifically, difficulty or weakness with walking

Neurogenic claudication occurs due to a compression of the spinal nerves located in the lower (lumbar) spine. It is typically caused by spinal stenosis — the narrowing of the spinal canal — in the lumbar region. This narrowing generally occurs due to wear and tear of the lower spine, as well as arthritic changes such as:

  • Bulging discs
  • Thickening of ligaments
  • Overgrowth of bone spurs

Symptoms of neurogenic claudication

Symptoms of NC are often centralized in the lower back, one or both legs, and the buttocks, and may include:

  • Pain
  • Tingling
  • Cramping
  • Weakness or heaviness (specifically in the legs)
  • Shopping cart syndrome (having to lean on the shopping cart to feel relief)

Test and diagnosis

Chronic pain specialists in our 3 Greater New Orleans pain management clinics can test for — and diagnose — neurogenic claudication. Common testing methods include:

  • X-ray — spinal dislocation or slippage, scoliosis, as well as overall spine balance can be assessed via X-rays — as can bone spurs and erosion.
  • MRI — MRIs, unlike X-rays, can detect soft tissue. MRIs can determine the cause of any existing stenosis (such as a bulging or herniated disc).
  • CT — This method uses computers and X-rays to produce images of bones and soft tissues.

Treatment for neurogenic claudication in New Orleans

Here at Southern Pain and Neurological, we've seen incredible results with both the Vertiflex procedure and implanted nerve stimulators for treatment of neurogenic claudication. With the Vertiflex procedure, we are able to indirectly decompress the level of stenosis, thus opening up the spinal canal and allowing the nerves to move freely. Most patients notice immediate relief of their typical leg pain and weakness. If there is still some pain present, the implanted nerve stimulator can take care of the rest. With these stimulators, rather than feeling pain, patients feel a pleasant tingling sensation instead. As a result, most patients experience a lower level of pain and an increased quality of life. Not all patients are ideal candidates for this treatment method. That's why we first introduce a trial-version of the device — as an outpatient surgical procedure. With this trial, a stimulator wire is temporarily placed in the specific area of your pain. The goal of the trial period is to determine if the device delivers sufficient relief from pain. If the results are effective, we then implant the wire and pulse generator.

Of course, the first step is to determine if your chronic pain is the result of NC. Schedule a consultation with one of our three New Orleans pain clinics (Marrero, Metairie, and Covington). We'll diagnose the cause of your chronic pain and discuss all of your treatment options. Even if the Vertiflex procedure or implanted nerve stimulator isn't right for you, our team can introduce you to a host of other potential treatment options — so that you can regain a better quality of life.

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