Pain associated with cervical foraminal narrowing develops slowly, over several years. In its early stages, discomfort may arise only occasionally and may be associated with a particular activity such as riding a bicycle or sitting at a desk for an extended period of time. It may initially be misinterpreted as a muscle strain in the areas of the neck or upper back. However, foraminal narrowing (or stenosis) means the space available for nerve roots to exit the spinal cord is becoming restricted. The foramina (singular: foramen) are openings on either side of the vertebrae that allow for the passage of nerve roots that branch off the spinal cord. Injury can narrow these apertures, but this narrowing is usually caused by years of wear and tear borne by the anatomical components of the spine.
Areas Affected by Cervical Foraminal Narrowing
As the anatomical components of the spine age, they become more prone to inflammation or deterioration. Joints can become enlarged and intervertebral discs can lose their elasticity and begin to bulge or herniate. This degeneration is not always a cause for concern; only if neural activity becomes compromised will symptoms arise. If, however, a nerve root becomes compressed because of foraminal narrowing, it can produce debilitating pain, tingling, numbness, or muscle weakness. If the foramina within the cervical (neck) region become restricted, it can produce symptoms in the following areas of the body:
- Upper back
Treatment for Cervical Foraminal Narrowing
In general, chronic symptoms associated with cervical foraminal narrowing can be managed using pain medication, exercise, corticosteroid injections, or other conservative methods. However, if your doctor determines that conservative methods have been ineffective, you may wish to consider contacting Laser Spine Institute to learn about the benefits of a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure performed using revolutionary endoscopic technology. Our orthopedic specialists have helped tens of thousands of patients rediscover their lives without back and neck pain. Contact us for a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan.