Foraminal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the openings (called foramina) that allow for passage of nerve roots off the spinal cord, typically is a result of degenerative spine conditions associated with the aging process. The intervertebral, or neural, foramina occur in pairs along the spine, located between the vertebral body and the vertebral arch. Like all components of the spinal anatomy, the intervertebral foramina are subject to wear and tear over the years. Because spinal nerves pass through these openings, diminished space within the foramina can produce potentially debilitating nerve compression symptoms, such as radiating pain, tingling, numbness, or muscle weakness.
Specific conditions that cause foraminal stenosis
A traumatic spinal injury could cause foraminal stenosis, but the condition is much more likely to be associated with the aging process. Symptoms, especially localized pain, generally are mild at the beginning and worsen over time. The degenerative spine conditions that can lead to foraminal stenosis include:
- Herniated discs
- Bulging discs
- Loss of disc height due to degenerative disc disease
- Loss of vertebral stability due to facet disease
- Bone spurs caused by osteoarthritis
Treatment for foraminal stenosis
Because the intervertebral foramina are relatively isolated within the spinal column, many of the typical conservative treatment methods used for neck and back pain – including exercise, stretching and physical therapy – might not be as effective. Pain medication and epidural steroidal injections might produce better results. However, if chronic pain persists after several weeks of conservative treatment, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure performed using advanced technology may be able to help you find relief from neck and back pain.