The narrowing of the spinal foramina (nerve passageways) can be a painful condition. Your physician may recommend several conservative non-surgical treatment options, but medication for foraminal narrowing may be the first step he or she suggests to alleviate your pain. Let’s first explore what the condition entails.
The spine’s foramina are the canals on either side of a vertebra. These canals protect the spinal nerves as they branch off from the spinal cord and travel to other parts of the body. Foraminal narrowing, also known as neural foraminal stenosis, is a condition in which the foramina become constricted by a bulging or ruptured disc, osteophytes (bone spurs), spinal tumors, fractures, or other spinal conditions.
The narrowing of the canal causes the nerve traveling through it to be impinged upon, or compressed. Nerve compression can cause shooting pains directly from the area of impingement. Radiating symptoms of pain, numbness, weakness, and tingling may also be felt in the arms or legs, depending on the location of the constriction. Medications are often used to treat the resulting nerve pain, or neuralgia, that stems from foraminal stenosis.
Types of Medications
- NSAIDs – Your doctor may initially recommend non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. These drugs (ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen, etc.) can help reduce inflammation and might be effective in treating mild to moderate pain.
- Anti-depressants and anti-seizure drugs – These drugs have been used more recently to treat nerve pain, as they seem to dampen pain signals.
- Steroids – Steroids such as cortisone may be suggested if tissue inflammation surrounding the foraminal narrowing is evident. The medication can be taken orally or injected, in the forms of epidural steroid injections and nerve root blocks.
- Opioids – Opioids are a prescription narcotic, generally reserved for moderate to severe pain cases. When combined with NSAIDs, opioids may be more effective in reducing inflammation as well as pain.
Laser Spine Institute
Medication for foraminal narrowing can often reduce and relieve symptoms. In some cases, however, symptoms persist and it may be necessary to consider alternative options. The orthopedic specialists at Laser Spine Institute can explain why the various minimally invasive procedures we offer provide a safe and effective alternative to open back and neck surgery.?Contact us today?for an appointment and we will review your MRI or CT scan at no cost to you.