Foraminal narrowing FAQ — frequently asked questions

If you have been diagnosed with foraminal narrowing, you probably have some questions about the condition. While your doctor is the best person to answer questions specific to your situation, Laser Spine Institute can provide you with information to help you learn more about this condition. Here, we have listed a few of the most common questions we receive from our patients regarding foraminal narrowing.

Q: What is foraminal narrowing?

A: Foraminal narrowing is narrowing of the small openings between the vertebrae in the spinal column. These spaces are where nerve roots pass through the spinal column and branch out to the rest of the body. This space can become narrower due to a number of spinal conditions, which can lead to compression of the nerve roots and a variety of symptoms.

Q: What causes foraminal narrowing?

A: Many spine conditions can be the underlying cause of foraminal stenosis, some of the more common include:

  • Bulging or herniated discs
  • Bone spur growth, often linked to osteoarthritis
  • Thickening of ligaments

These conditions are very often age-related and more likely to occur in people older than age 50. Injury, weight, posture and smoking can also be contributing factors.

Q: What are the symptoms?

A: Symptoms can vary depending on the location and extent of the nerve root compression. For example, a compressed nerve in your cervical (upper) spine may lead to symptoms in the neck, shoulders, arms and hands. While nerve-root compression in the lumbar (lower) spine can often mean lower back pain, along with symptoms in the hips, buttocks, legs and feet.

Q: What are some treatment options?

A: Your doctor will probably recommend that you first follow a conservative treatment plan designed to address the symptoms caused by your foraminal stenosis. Commonly recommended methods include:

  • Applying heat or ice to the affected area
  • Attending physical therapy sessions
  • Stretching at home
  • Exercising in moderation
  • Taking pain medications

Q: Will I need surgery?

A: Conservative approaches are successful in managing symptoms for many patients diagnosed with foraminal narrowing. However if you have exhausted conservative treatment options without finding the relief needed to resume everyday activities, your doctor may recommend surgery. When considering your surgical options, remember that you have a choice in the surgery you undergo — including the minimally invasive spine surgery performed by the board-certified surgeons+ at Laser Spine Institute.

To learn more about the advantages of our outpatient procedures, reach out to our dedicated team today. We’re happy to offer a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you may be a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery at one of our state-of-the-art centers.