How to treat foraminal stenosis

If you have been diagnosed with foraminal stenosis, you may be looking for more information about this condition and the treatment options available. Stenosis refers to narrowing, while foraminal refers to the openings through which nerves leave the spinal column. If the major nerve passageways become constricted, spinal nerves might become compressed, causing pain and interrupting the ability of the nerves to send motor and sensory signals. There are many options for treating foraminal stenosis, ranging from conservative treatments to surgery. The severity of your foraminal stenosis and the underlying causes will be a large deciding factor in your personal treatment plan.

What causes foraminal stenosis?

There are many spinal conditions that can cause foraminal narrowing. Most of them are related to the effects of aging or excessive wear on the spine. For example, a bulging disc occurs when a disc’s wall expands and pushes beyond its normal perimeter. A herniated disc occurs when a spinal disc weakens, ruptures and pushes inner disc material into the spinal canal. A spinal bone spur is an additional growth of smooth bone that the body produces in response to reduction in spinal joint stability. All of these conditions can lead to expansion of tissue into space normally occupied by nerve structures, producing the narrowing known as foraminal stenosis.

What are the symptoms of nerve compression?

The symptoms of foraminal stenosis depend on the area of the spine affected. These areas include the following:

  • Cervical foraminal stenosis. This may include pain, numbness or tingling in the neck or upper back. Symptoms are experienced when rotating the head and neck. Symptoms may be localized, or it may radiate down the upper back and into the shoulders, arms and hands.
  • Thoracic foraminal stenosis. This may include pain that seems to surround the rib cage, sternum and abdomen. Twisting from the waist or moving from side to side may generate a pins-and-needles sensation.
  • Lumbar foraminal stenosis. This is one of the most common forms of foraminal stenosis. Symptoms in the lower back may remain localized, or may radiate through the buttocks and legs.

Specific treatment options for foraminal stenosis

Your doctor will most likely start your treatment with conservative methods, which can include pain medication, physical therapy, lifestyle changes and hot/cold therapy. These methods often are successful, but for some patients, they are unable to provide the relief necessary for a healthy and active lifestyle.

If conservative treatment of your symptoms caused by foraminal stenosis has been exhausted, surgery may be required to help you regain an acceptable quality of life. Before undergoing a highly invasive traditional open spine procedure, consider Laser Spine Institute’s minimally invasive spine surgery. Our minimally invasive decompression and minimally invasive stabilization procedures can treat foraminal stenosis on an outpatient basis through the use of muscle-sparing techniques. Contact us today for information about our treatment options for foraminal stenosis.

You can also ask for your free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.