Foraminal stenosis — truck driving

The foraminal canal in the spine is a pathway for the nerve roots to exit the spinal cord. If a degenerative spine condition develops, causing a disc or vertebra to become damaged and protrude into the foraminal canal, foraminal stenosis develops. Foraminal stenosis simply refers to the narrowing of the foraminal canal.

Because this condition is often caused by a degenerative spine condition that develops with the natural aging process of the spine, many people may have foraminal stenosis without ever realizing it. The condition itself does not present any symptoms. However, if a nerve root is caught in the narrowing canal and becomes compressed, symptoms of chronic pain and radiating tingling and numbness in the extremities may occur.

Foraminal stenosis can be aggravated by several situations, including extensive driving. If you have noticed that your pain worsens with long drives or bumpy roads, you should consult your physician to determine a treatment option that fits your needs and lifestyle.

How foraminal stenosis can develop from driving

People who drive for a living, such as long-haul truck drivers, can experience intermittent or chronic neck and back pain caused by foraminal stenosis.

This is because truck drivers endure long periods of whole-body vibrations while on the road. The constant shaking and vibrations along the spine can cause the spine to experience more stress, and can also create more pressure on the impacted nerve root by bumping it into the wall of the foraminal canal with every jolt on the road.

The discs in your spine act as shock absorbers for the spine, cushioning the vertebrae and stabilizing the spine during movement. Repetitive vibrations can cause the discs to weaken and break down faster than normal. A bulging or herniated disc could develop, causing the spine to move out of normal alignment and create a narrowed space in the foraminal canal, resulting in foraminal stenosis.

Additionally, when vertebrae are jostled repeatedly, cartilage in the spine can experience more rapid wear and tear. Once cartilage has worn away, the vertebrae may rub against each other, which can be further irritated by vibrations. As a result, conditions like spinal arthritis, bone spurs and inflamed ligaments may develop and could contribute to foraminal stenosis.

Treatment for foraminal stenosis

Consult your physician about the treatment options available to you to reduce the stress and pain in your neck or back from foraminal stenosis.

Your physician will most likely recommend that you undergo conservative therapy first to reduce your pain and symptoms. For many patients with foraminal stenosis, nonsurgical treatment offers effective and lasting pain relief and does not disrupt their daily lives.

However, if conservative treatment has not provided pain relief after several months, you should contact our team at Laser Spine Institute to learn about minimally invasive procedures that are safer and effective than traditional open back surgery.

For more information, contact Laser Spine Institute.