Mild foraminal narrowing is a degenerative spine condition that is generally associated with the natural aging process. This condition is not necessarily symptomatic, and mild foraminal narrowing can actually go completely undetected. However, foraminal narrowing – also known as foraminal stenosis – is capable of causing significant neck and back pain if the constriction leads to the compression of the nerves that exit the spinal column through that passageway.
The spinal column
In between the individual vertebrae in the spinal column, small passageways or “canals” exist that allow nerves to enter and exit the spinal column. These canals are known as the intervertebral foramina (or singular, foramen) and have the very important task of protecting the nerves. As we grow older – or as a result of an injury – the foraminal canals are prone to narrowing. This isn’t necessarily a problem on its own, but in the event that the mild foraminal narrowing results in the irritation or impingement of the nerve roots in the canal, the patient can experience several symptoms depending on the specific nerve affected.
Some of the most common symptoms associated with mild foraminal narrowing include:
- Pain that feels like it radiates along a nerve to another segment of the body
- A feeling of pins and needles or a burning sensation along the nerve
- Unexpected muscle weakness or fatigue
- Localized pain at the site of the compression
- Soreness or pronounced stiffness
- Numbness or tingling, particularly in the extremities
In most cases, mild foraminal narrowing is not symptomatic, or it only requires moderate treatment. Pain medication, anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants and hot or cold compresses are all effective treatments that can provide marked pain relief. In the event that you continue to experience symptoms that can be linked to foraminal stenosis, your physician may recommend surgery to remove the source of your nerve compression.
If this is your prognosis, contact Laser Spine Institute for a complimentary review of your MRI or CT scan and to learn whether one of our minimally invasive procedures may be able to help you find relief from neck and back pain.