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What is Spinal Claudication?

Published: October 17, 2023

If you have lower back pain referring down to your lower limbs, spinal claudication could be one of conditions. Spinal claudication is a condition characterized by the development of symptoms such as pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling in the lower back, buttocks, thighs, or legs. These symptoms typically occur during physical activity or walking and are relieved when the person rests or changes their position. Spinal claudication is often associated with spinal stenosis, a condition normally developed by degeneration which eventually makes the spinal canal narrower and puts pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots. Spinal stenosis can be present from birth or developed over time and is often a result of degenerative changes in the spine, such as the thickening of ligaments, the formation of bone spurs, or the degenerative disease of intervertebral discs.

What are the symptoms?

The typical symptom of spinal claudication is a lower back pain associated with leg pain that worsens with walking or prolonged standing and improves with sitting, bending forward, or resting. There are various types of pains like aching and dull pain but sometimes described as burning and neurological pains like weakness, numbness, or tingling in the legs or buttocks.

In terms of claudication, it is often associated with vascular claudication, which is characterized by leg pain due to poor blood flow to the muscles. In spinal claudication, the symptoms result from nerve compression rather than vascular issues. If the symptoms come and go, it's called as intermittent claudication.

To diagnose spinal claudication, a detailed medical history will be taken, and a physical examination will be conducted by a medical practitioner. In addition to primary examinations, imaging tests, such as X-rays, MRI, or CT scans, may be ordered to investigate the relevant structural abnormalities.

What is the treatment?

The goal of treatment of spinal claudication aims to relieve symptoms and improve a patient's quality of life. Conservative treatments may include ice, heat, rest, physical therapies, and pain management medications. Physical therapies focus on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of musculoskeletal disorders, mainly through manual manipulation and with the assistance of medical devices like ultrasound, or electrical stimulation to help alleviate pain and inflammation. In some cases, epidural steroid injections may be used to reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms. If conservative measures do not provide relief, surgery can be an option to decompress the spinal canal and relieve pressure on the affected nerves.

It's essential to consult healthcare professionals for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan if you suspect you have any spinal disorder or are experiencing symptoms related to it. Early intervention will be more effective to manage the condition and prevent it from worsening. Speak to one of our professionals at Back in Motion Cranbourne today if you would like more information.


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