Foraminotomy Surgery – Can it Help Relieve Your Back and Neck Pain?

Foraminotomy surgery may become an option for patients experiencing severe and debilitating symptoms caused by nerve root compression in the intervertebral foramina (the tiny spaces in between vertebrae where nerve roots are housed). Before exploring how surgery could help relieve your neck and back pain, it is helpful to briefly review the relationship between the vertebrae, the spinal cord and nerve roots.

The vertebrae and spinal cord

The spine consists of individual bony structures called vertebrae. A few vertebrae are fused together, forming the sacrum and the coccyx (tailbone). The spinal cord, which begins at the base of the brain, travels through central openings in the stacked vertebrae down into the lower back. Along the length of the spine, lateral passageways called intervertebral foramina provide openings for the spinal cord’s nerve roots to travel through before branching off and innervating the rest of the body. An anatomical abnormality in the spine such as a bone spur, bulging or herniated disc or a calcified ligament can create a blockage in a foramen and cause the associated nerve root to be pinched. A pinched nerve root can lead to symptoms of pain, numbness, weakness and tingling that radiate into the extremities. A “foraminotomy” is a type of surgery that opens up a blocked foramen and releases a nerve root from painful compression.

Relieving nerve root compression

Typically a physician will suggest a regimen of conservative (non-surgical) treatments before a foraminotomy surgery becomes an option. A majority of conservative treatments aim to relieve the symptoms of nerve compression, while a foraminotomy aims to mitigate nerve pain by removing bone and other tissue to enlarge the narrowed foramen of the affected nerve root. A foraminotomy can be performed minimally invasively, requiring only a small incision, no disruption of musculature and other soft tissues and removal of only the portion of spinal anatomy directly causing nerve compression.

Laser Spine Institute

As a leader in minimally invasive spine surgery, Laser Spine Institute’s orthopedic surgeons have performed foraminotomy surgery on thousands of patients to help relieve their neck and back pain. Our minimally invasive procedures are effective alternatives to traditional open spine surgeries, which require large incisions and a difficult recovery. Contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more.