Bilateral neural foraminal narrowing may sound complicated, but the condition has a relatively simple definition. In essence, the term means that nerve passageways in the spine – on both the right and left side – have less space than they used to, possibly leading to the compression or pinching of nerves.
If we break the term down into its individual parts, we learn that “bilateral” means both the left and right side are affected, while “neural” refers to nerves. The term “foraminal” tells us that the condition affects the foramina, which are open passageways on either side of each vertebra. These passageways provide a space through which spinal nerve roots leave the spinal column and join the complex network of nerves that serves the entire body. And “narrowing” means that the nerve passageways have become constricted.
A variety of degenerative conditions can lead to anatomical abnormalities that cause these passageways to narrow, in which case the spinal nerves can become compressed or “pinched.” This condition is also referred to as foraminal stenosis.
While it is most common for foraminal narrowing to be unilateral, or affecting only one side of the body, bilateral narrowing is possible. Degenerative spinal abnormalities that can lead to stenosis include a herniated disc, a bulging disc, bone spurs, and spondylolisthesis, among others.
Conservative Treatments for Bilateral Foraminal Stenosis
If you are experiencing pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness in your back, neck, or extremities and your doctor has diagnosed you with bilateral neural foraminal narrowing, treatment options are available. Your doctor may suggest a variety of non-operative, conservative methods:
- Low-impact exercise
- Prescription or over-the-counter pain medication
- Gentle stretching or restorative yoga
- Intermittent periods of rest
- Alternating hot and cold compresses
What Are My Surgical Treatment Options?
If weeks or months of conservative treatments do not help your symptoms to abate, your doctor may suggest that you consider spine surgery to release the neural compression of foraminal stenosis. Keep in mind that there are outpatient alternatives to highly invasive spine surgeries like spinal fusion. Laser Spine Institute offers minimally invasive decompression procedures that utilize state-of-the-art endoscopic technology. Contact us today for more information and for a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan.