Foraminal cervical stenosis is a condition in which the intervertebral foramina, or small canals between pairs of vertebrae, become narrowed in the cervical (upper) region of the spine. The spine’s nerve roots must travel through these small canals, or spaces, as the nerves branch off and travel from the spinal cord to the rest of the body. Constriction of the intervertebral foramina can cause painful pressure on nerve roots.
Symptoms of foraminal cervical stenosis, also known as cervical spinal stenosis, include neck pain as well as numbness, muscle weakness and a “pins-and-needles” sensation in the upper or lower body. These symptoms will often be radicular, meaning that they can spread to other parts of the upper body, affecting the shoulders, arms and hands. More severe symptoms can include difficulty walking as well as 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 foramina on both sides of a vertebra are narrowed, inducing symptoms on both sides of the body.
There are a variety of issues that can induce foraminal cervical stenosis, including:
- Ligament thickening
- Herniated disc
- Enlargement of a joint
- Slipped or bulging disc
- Disc degeneration, commonly due to aging
- Osteophytes or bone spurs
Foraminal cervical stenosis is commonly caused by disc degeneration. As we age, our vertebral discs can herniate or bulge, either of which can lead 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 worsen.
Foraminal cervical stenosis can be treated in multiple ways. 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 unsuccessful, your physician may also suggest open spine foraminal stenosis surgery, especially if the condition is significantly diminishing your quality of life.
Laser Spine Institute provides an alternative to hospitalization and traditional open spine surgery. Our surgeons perform minimally invasive, outpatient procedures that can help you find relief from neck pain. Contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn more about our procedures and for your MRI or CT scan review.