Bilateral foraminal stenosis is a narrowing of the foramina, which are gaps located on each side of the vertebrae. These vertebral gaps serve as the spaces through which nerves travel as they pass from the spinal column to the rest of the body.
There are two foramina on each vertebra, one to serve the left side of the body and one for the right. “Bilateral” means that both foraminal openings become constricted, whereas lateral neural foraminal stenosis means that only one opening on one side of the vertebrae narrows. “Stenosis” refers to the constriction itself.
When the foramina become so narrow that they begin to put stress on the nerves, symptoms of bilateral foraminal stenosis may include pain, weakness, tingling and numbness. These symptoms will affect both sides of the body and can negatively affect everyday activities. Foraminal stenosis in the upper part of the neck and back (foraminal cervical stenosis) will cause symptoms in the head, shoulders, arms and other parts of the upper torso, whereas stenosis in the lower back (lumbar foraminal stenosis) can impact the legs and feet, which can lead to impaired walking or bladder and bowel function.
Potential sources of bilateral foraminal stenosis include:
- Spinal disc herniation, or slipped disc
- Bulging disc
- Disc degeneration
- Osteophyte, or bone spur, growth
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Arthritis of the spine
Bilateral foraminal stenosis caused by a disc herniation, a slipped disc, or a bulging disc typically means that damaged disc material is extruding into the foramen, constricting the space through which the nerve passes, thereby applying unwanted stress on the nerves.
Your physician may recommend conservative treatments for bilateral foraminal stenosis, including physical therapy and exercise, rest, pain medication, steroid injections and anti-inflammatory medicines. When the condition is severe, however, your physician may recommend bilateral stenosis surgery, which often involves the removal of the vertebral disc that is causing constriction around the nerve root.
To learn more about alternatives to traditional treatments and the outpatient spine surgeries currently available, contact the staff at Laser Spine Institute. Our surgeons can help you find relief from neck and back pain by performing minimally invasive, outpatient procedures. Contact LSI Laser Spine Institute today to learn more about bilateral foraminal stenosis treatment, and to receive a free review of your MRI or CT scan.