Foraminal stenosis in the neck (cervical spine) is a common cause of local pain as well as other neurological symptoms in the upper body. This is because stenosis is a shrinking of the canals that house the spinal nerves as they stem off the spinal cord. As the diameter of these canals, known as the foramina, shrink, the nerves can become compressed, which can lead to sensory and/or motor dysfunction.
Interestingly, the narrowing of foraminal stenosis is asymptomatic. It is only if a nerve root becomes pinched or compressed that the individual will know anything is wrong.
Stenosis is typically considered a degenerative condition, meaning the foramina gradually shrink over time, eventually leading to a multitude of potential symptoms. Depending on the pathology of the nerve compression, symptoms of foraminal stenosis can include local chronic neck pain, muscle weakness in the shoulders, arms and hands, and even numbness or tingling in the fingers.
A number of conditions can cause a narrowing of the foramina, but foraminal stenosis in the neck and back is most commonly exacerbated by:
- Regular aging or arthritis in the spine
- Bulging or herniated intervertebral discs
- Bone growths and other spinal abnormalities
- Degenerative disc disease
Foraminal stenosis treatments vary depending on the source and severity of the condition. Normally, the symptoms of foraminal and spinal stenosis in the neck can be managed conservatively, with bed rest, physical therapy, exercise, pain killers and the application of heat and ice. If these non-surgical options don’t alleviate the neck pain, however, a patient may consider other options.
One such option is a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure at Laser Spine Institute known as a foraminotomy. Unlike traditional open back surgery, Laser Spine Institute’s foraminotomy uses lasers and other small surgical instruments to widen and irrigate the foramen, which results in nerve decompression. To learn more about foraminotomy, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our team of trained surgeons is at the forefront of the exciting field of minimally invasive spine surgery, and we can provide you with your MRI or CT scan review to find out if you are a candidate for our outpatient procedures.