Foraminal Narrowing

Foraminal narrowing, or foraminal stenosis, is a degenerative spine condition that occurs when the narrow passageways that allow spinal nerves to exit and enter the spinal column become constricted, causing painful nerve compression. The onset of this condition can be exacerbated by environmental factors, such as smoking, obesity or excessive alcohol consumption, but more often than not, it is caused by nothing more than the natural aging process.


Foraminal narrowing can be caused by a variety of spinal conditions, including:

  • A herniated intervertebral disc
  • Calcified ligaments
  • Swollen soft tissue
  • The presence of bone spurs
  • Misaligned vertebrae
  • Other forms of osteoarthritis

When the foraminal canals become constricted, the spinal nerves that they are tasked with protecting can become compressed or “pinched.” When this happens, the regular function of the nerves is interrupted, and the body may respond with a variety of symptoms, including localized or traveling pain. Numbness, weakness and a feeling of pins and needles may also be experienced in different parts of the body depending on the specific nerve that is compressed.


Treatment for foraminal narrowing can sometimes be challenging because in order to alleviate the patient’s symptoms, space must be recreated in the foramen to decompress the nerve. In many cases, this can be accomplished with a series of conservative, non-surgical treatments that are designed to take pressure off the foramen and reduce pain. Some popular non-invasive techniques include the use of hot or cold compresses, pain medication and anti-inflammatories and physical therapy.

If after several weeks of conservative treatment you still haven’t found the pain relief you require, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how one of our minimally invasive, outpatient spine procedures may be just the thing you need to find relief from neck and back pain.