Aging and foraminal narrowing often go hand-in-hand because of the degenerative changes that occur in the spine over time. Years of wear and tear can cause many elements of the neck and back, including the foramina, vertebrae, ligaments, and intervertebral discs to lose their structural integrity. While the natural aging process is unavoidable, there are several things that can be done to reduce the severity and risk of foraminal narrowing.
What is Foraminal Narrowing?
Foraminal narrowing refers to a constriction of the foramina, which are the passageways in the vertebrae through which the nerves exit the spinal cord. A number of degenerative spine conditions can cause this constriction, including:
- Bulging discs
- Herniated discs
- Degenerative disc disease
- And others
Foraminal narrowing only causes discomfort when the passageways become so constricted that a spinal nerve becomes compressed.
A compressed spinal nerve can cause pain, numbness, tingling, cramping, spasms, and muscle weakness. The neck and back are highly innervated areas, and symptoms of nerve compression may be experienced in the parts of the body to which the spinal nerves travel. When this condition is present in the cervical (upper) spine, individuals may experience symptoms in the neck, shoulders, arms, and/or hands. Foraminal narrowing in the thoracic (middle) spine may cause discomfort in the middle back, ribs, and/or torso. An individual with this condition in the lumbar (lower) spine may complain of pain in the lower back, hips, buttocks, legs, and/or feet.
Foraminal narrowing is often treatable through conservative means, including pain medications, physical therapy, and hot/cold compresses. If these non-invasive treatments prove ineffective after weeks or months, the minimally invasive procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute may be a viable option. Contact us to learn about our safe and effective procedures and how our state-of-the-art endoscopic technology can be used to treat foraminal narrowing.