Foraminal cervical stenosis is a condition in which the foramina, or small canals between each vertebra, become narrowed in the cervical (upper) region of the spine. The body’s nerves must pass through these small canals, or spaces, as they travel from the spinal cord to the rest of the body, so constriction of the spaces can lead to undue pressure on nerve roots.
Symptoms of foraminal cervical stenosis, also known as cervical spinal stenosis, include neck pain as well as numbness, weakness, and a “pins-and-needles” feeling. These symptoms will often be radicular, meaning that they can radiate to other parts of the upper body, affecting the shoulders, arms, and hands. More severe symptoms can include loss of reflexes and fine motor skills. Foraminal cervical stenosis typically only affects one side of the body, in contrast to bilateral foraminal stenosis where both sides of the vertebral disc are narrowed, causing symptoms to appear on both sides of the body.
There are a variety of issues that can induce foraminal cervical stenosis, including:
- Herniated disc
- Slipped or bulging disc
- Disc degeneration, commonly due to aging
- Osteophytes or bone spurs
- Ligament thickening
- Enlargement of a joint
Foraminal cervical stenosis is most commonly caused by disc degeneration. As we age, our vertebral discs can herniate or bulge, both of which can contribute to constriction of the foramina in the neck region of the spine. As the nerves of the neck are subjected to more pressure, the symptoms of pain and nerve signal interruption will increase.
Luckily, foraminal cervical stenosis can be treated. After a thorough examination and possibly an MRI, your physician may suggest several options for relief, such as exercise, gentle stretching, rest, steroid injections, or prescription and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications. If these treatments prove ineffective, your physician may also suggest conventional foraminal stenosis surgery, especially if the condition is greatly limiting your quality of life.
Laser Spine Institute provides an alternative to hospitalization and traditional surgery. Our award-winning surgeons can help you rediscover a life without pain thanks to our minimally invasive, outpatient procedures. Contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn more about our procedures and to receive a complimentary MRI or CT scan review.