Foraminal stenosis overview

Although the term “foraminal stenosis” can be confusing when you first hear it, it’s easy to understand when the parts are explained individually. The term “stenosis” refers to a narrowing, while “foraminal” refers to the open spaces on either side of the spinal column through which spinal nerves travel as they branch off the spinal cord. The narrowing of major nerve passageways can compress those nerves, causing pain and interruption of important nerve functions. To learn about the causes of this condition and the treatment methods available, read the following article.

What causes foraminal stenosis?

There are a number of spinal conditions that can cause the foramina to narrow. For instance:

  • A herniated disc occurs when a spinal disc becomes weak, ruptures and releases its inner disc material into the spinal canal
  • A bulging disc occurs when a disc wall extends and pushes beyond its normal boundaries
  • Bone spurs are extra growths of smooth bone that the body produces in response to a weakened spine

These conditions can lead to the tissue expansion into spaces (foramina) normally occupied by nerve roots or the spinal cord, hence the narrowing known as foraminal stenosis. The compression of nerve roots leads to symptoms such as pain, numbness, weakness, burning and tingling the extremities. When this process involves multiple foramina, it is called foraminal stenosis.

Foraminal stenosis treatment options

In a healthy spine, the nerve roots have plenty of space in the foramina and no pressure is created. The compression of the nerve roots over time can not only cause symptoms related to foraminal stenosis but in extreme cases, could eventually cause nerve death which may result in loss of function if left untreated.

Although most cases of foraminal stenosis are not urgent, they certainly warrant examination and treatment. Most conservative treatment options offer little relief from severe symptoms. Nonsurgical treatments like pain medication and physical therapy sometimes provide sufficient relief, but a high percentage of patients continue to experience symptoms.

If you experience severe foraminal stenosis symptoms and your doctor has determined that surgery is the recommended treatment, contact Laser Spine Institute. We are the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery designed to treat degenerative spine conditions without the high risks of infection and complication compared to traditional open back surgery.^

Our minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures are performed on an outpatient basis and do not require a lengthy recovery^ or unnecessary muscle tearing. Reach out to us today and ask us for a free MRI review* to determine if you are a candidate for one of our foraminal stenosis procedures. We can help guide you on your road to recovery.