Moderate neural foraminal narrowing refers to the gradual constriction of the foramina (nerve passageways) in the spinal column that has caused nerve (neural) compression. As we age, these small passageways can slowly close around the nerves they are supposed to protect, resulting in neck and back pain. Treatment for light and moderate foraminal narrowing – also known as foraminal stenosis – is normally first attempted conservatively with a series of non-surgical treatments. Spine surgery is sometimes recommended to patients who do not experience sufficient pain relief from other treatments.
The intervertebral foramina (or singular, foramen) of the spine are narrow canals that allow nerve roots branching off the spinal cord to exit the spinal column. These canals exist between the vertebrae, and they can become clogged with disc material, bone and soft tissue as the spine naturally begins to deteriorate. Over the years, as this deteriorated material collects in the spinal column, the intervertebral foramina and the spinal canal (where the spinal cord resides) can become clogged, resulting in the impingement or irritation of the nerves in the canal. When this happens, the patient may experience a variety of symptoms depending on the specific nerve that is impacted. Localized pain, pain that seems to travel along the nerve, unexpected muscle weakness, spasms and tingling are all commonly associated with nerve compression in the spinal column.
Treatment for stenosis
Treatment of moderate neural foraminal narrowing is focused on offering the patient noticeable pain relief. The first step in determining the most appropriate treatment plan is to identify the source of the foraminal narrowing. A herniated disc, bulging disc, bone spurs, spondylolisthesis and osteoarthritis are all examples of degenerative spine conditions that may be the cause. In most cases, conservative treatment offers sufficient relief. These non-surgical treatments can include:
- Hot/cold compresses
- Low-impact exercise
- Pain medication
- Epidural injections
- Stretching techniques
- Alternative medicine
If you are still looking for effective treatments after attempting conservative methods, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about our outpatient, minimally invasive procedures and how we may be able to help you find relief from neck or back pain.