About Lumbar Spinal Stenosis > Associated Conditions > Neurogenic Intermittent Claudication


Neurogenic Intermittent Claudication: Symptoms of Lumbar Spinal Stenosis


Neurogenic intermittent claudication causes pain that radiates from the lower back down into the leg(s).

Neurogenic Intermittent Claudication Definition

Neurogenic intermittent claudication is a clinical name for the symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis.


It’s more easily understood when broken down:

  • Neurogenic = originating from the nerves
  • Intermittent = occurs sometimes
  • Claudication = leg pain, from the Latin term for "limping"

Symptoms of Neurogenic Intermittent Claudication

The intermittent claudication associated with lumbar spinal stenosis can cause one or more of these sensations radiating from the lower back into the legs:

  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • Stiffness
  • Dull cramping
  • Uncomfortable tingling or "pins and needles" sensation
  • Difficulty with balance

Causes of Neurogenic Intermittent Claudication

Leg pain or neurogenic intermittent claudication often develops because of a pinched nerve in the lumbar spine. Pinched nerves can occur as a result of degenerative or age-related changes to the spine such as the following:

Neurogenic Intermittent Claudication Treatment Options

There are various ways to treat the symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis (otherwise known as neurogenic intermittent claudication). Treatment often depends on your level of pain. You may want to discuss one or all of the following options with your doctor:

  • Nonsurgical Treatment—Medications, physical therapy, and epidural steroid injections are an option for those with lower levels of pain.
  • Less Invasive Surgical Procedures—This procedure is indicated for moderate to severe claudication symptoms. While still considered surgical, it doesn’t require the removal of structurally important bone or ligaments, and may result in a short recovery time.
  • Traditional Surgery—Recommended for people with severe intermittent claudication. Traditional surgery for treatment of lumbar spinal stenosis changes the anatomy of the back to make more room for the nerves.

Other Symptoms Related to Neurogenic Intermittent Claudication

Your doctor may refer to your leg pain as radiculopathy or sciatica. Although these symptoms share many of the same characteristics as neurogenic intermittent claudication, neurogenic intermittent claudication differs because it primarily occurs when you're standing straight or walking, making it intermittent in nature.


Radiculopathy and sciatica aren’t always caused by lumbar spinal stenosis, whereas neurogenic intermittent claudication is always associated with lumbar spinal stenosis.


There are other conditions, like vascular claudication, that are sometimes confused with neurogenic intermittent claudication because the symptoms are similar.


Read how lumbar spinal stenosis is diagnosed.

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