top of page
  • Writer's pictureAmanda Sacino, MD, PhD

Navigating Treatment Options for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis and Neurogenic Claudication

Lumbar spinal stenosis is a common condition characterized by the narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back. This narrowing can lead to compression of the spinal cord and nerves, causing a range of symptoms, including pain, numbness, and weakness in the legs. One of the hallmark symptoms of lumbar spinal stenosis is neurogenic claudication, which refers to leg pain and weakness that worsen with walking or standing and improve with sitting or bending forward. As this condition can significantly impact a person's mobility and quality of life, exploring the available treatment options is crucial for effective management.

1. Conservative Management:

For individuals with mild to moderate lumbar spinal stenosis and neurogenic claudication, conservative treatments may offer relief from symptoms:

a. Physical Therapy: Targeted exercises and stretches can help improve flexibility, strengthen supporting muscles, and promote better posture. A physical therapist can design a personalized exercise program to alleviate pain and improve mobility.

b. Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, and pain relievers can provide temporary relief from pain and inflammation. However, long-term use should be monitored by a healthcare professional.

c. Epidural Steroid Injections: Corticosteroid injections can be administered directly into the epidural space to reduce inflammation and provide temporary pain relief. These injections are typically performed under fluoroscopic guidance.

2. Assistive Devices:

Using assistive devices can help manage symptoms and improve mobility:

a. Canes or Walking Aids: Supportive devices can alleviate pressure on the spine and help individuals with neurogenic claudication walk more comfortably.

b. Lumbar Braces: Braces provide external support to the lower back, reducing strain on the spine and offering relief from pain during activities.

3. Minimally Invasive Procedures:

When conservative treatments do not provide sufficient relief, minimally invasive procedures may be considered:

a. Epidural Lysis of Adhesions: This procedure involves injecting a solution into the epidural space to break down scar tissue and adhesions that may be contributing to nerve compression.

b. Minimally Invasive Decompression: Techniques like laminectomy and laminotomy involve removing a small portion of the bone or tissue causing compression, creating more space for the nerves.

4. Surgical Options:

For individuals with severe lumbar spinal stenosis or those who have not responded to conservative or minimally invasive treatments, surgery might be recommended:

a. Decompressive Laminectomy: This traditional surgical procedure involves removing a portion of the lamina (back part of the vertebra) to create more space for the nerves. It can provide significant relief from neurogenic claudication.

b. Spinal Fusion: In cases where spinal instability accompanies stenosis, fusion surgery may be performed. This involves fusing two or more vertebrae together to stabilize the spine and alleviate nerve compression.

c. Interspinous Spacer: This device is implanted between the spinous processes (bony projections) of the vertebrae. It helps maintain space between the vertebrae, relieving pressure on the nerves.

5. Factors Influencing Treatment Choice:

The appropriate treatment for lumbar spinal stenosis and neurogenic claudication depends on various factors, including the severity of symptoms, the patient's overall health, and their individual goals.


Lumbar spinal stenosis causing neurogenic claudication can significantly impact a person's daily life and mobility. The range of available treatment options, from conservative management to minimally invasive procedures and surgical interventions, allows for tailored approaches to address individual needs. Early diagnosis and comprehensive evaluation are essential in determining the best course of action. With proper treatment, individuals with lumbar spinal stenosis can find relief from symptoms and regain their quality of life.

Dr. Amanda Sacino is fellowship-trained spinal neurosurgeon who completed her training at Johns Hopkins Hospital.


bottom of page