The term “stenosis” refers to a narrowing, while “foraminal” refers to the open spaces through which spinal nerves travel. As one might imagine, the narrowing of major nerve passageways can compress or pinch spinal nerves, causing pain and interruption of important nerve functions.
Causes of Foraminal Stenosis
There are a variety of spinal conditions that can cause foraminal narrowing. A herniated disc occurs when an intervertebral disc becomes weak, ruptures and expels its inner disc material into the spinal canal. A bulging disc occurs when the disc wall distends and pushes beyond its normal perimeter. Bone spurs are extra growths of smooth bone that the body produces in response to a weakened spine. All of these conditions can lead to the tissue expansion into space normally occupied by neural tissue, hence the narrowing known as foraminal stenosis.
Symptoms of spinal stenosis depend on the specific region of the spine affected. They can include any combination of the following:
- Foraminal cervical stenosis – this may include numbness or tingling in the neck or upper back. Symptoms are experienced when rotating the head and neck. Symptoms may be localized, or it may radiate down the upper back and into the shoulders, arms, and hands.
- Foraminal thoracic stenosis – this may include pain that seems to surround the rib cage, sternum, and abdomen. Twisting from the waist or moving from side to side may generate a “pins-and-needles” sensation.
- Foraminal lumbar stenosis – this is one of the most common forms of foraminal stenosis. Symptoms in the lower back may remain localized, or may radiate through the buttocks and legs. Radiating symptoms may indicate sciatic nerve compression.
If conservative treatment of the symptoms caused by foraminal stenosis fails, surgery may be required. Let the experts at Laser Spine Institute (LSI) tell you more about our minimally invasive, endoscopic procedures to remove excess tissue and open nerve passages in the spinal column. Contact us today and receive a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan.