The symptoms associated with foraminal stenosis are similar to those of other degenerative spine conditions, such as herniated discs or bulging discs. There is one major exception, though. With foraminal stenosis, pain generally develops slowly. It is not continuous and typically is related to particular body movements or activities. Often, pain associated with foraminal stenosis subsides temporarily when a patient rests or bends forward.
What is Foraminal Stenosis?
Foraminal stenosis is the narrowing of the openings along the spine that allow nerve roots to exit the spinal cord. This narrowing usually is associated with the aging process, during which daily wear and tear take a toll on the spinal anatomy. Over the years, intervertebral discs and facet joints can begin to break down, which can decrease the space available for nerve roots. The openings along the spine that allow for nerve root passage are known as intervertebral foramina and occur in pairs along either side of the stacked vertebrae. Should a degenerative condition such as osteoarthritis begin to limit the space available for nerve roots, the following symptoms can gradually arise:
- Local pain at the point of the nerve compression
- Traveling pain along the impinged nerve
- Numbness or tingling in the extremities associated with the impinged nerve
- A feeling of pins and needles or extreme heat
- Muscular weakness
Treatment for Foraminal Stenosis
The three most common conservative treatments for foraminal stenosis are exercise (stretching), behavior modification, and epidural steroidal injections. If chronic symptoms persist after several weeks of nonsurgical treatment, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn whether a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure known as foraminotomy may be able to help you rediscover your life without back and neck pain.