Connections between aging and foraminal narrowing

Aging is often the main cause of foraminal narrowing because the spine undergoes degenerative changes over time, which can lead to the narrowing of the foraminal canal. Often, degenerative spine conditions, such as a herniated disc or bone spur, develops as the spine experiences years of pressure from excess weight and constant motion.

These degenerative conditions cause the elements of the spine to move out of alignment, sometimes moving into the foraminal canal and narrowing the space available for nerves to travel in and out of the spine. Sometimes, this can cause a nerve root in the foraminal canal to become pinched, resulting in local and radiating pain as well as limited mobility.

While the natural aging process is unavoidable, there are several things that can be done to reduce the severity and risk of foraminal narrowing. Talk to your doctor about lifestyle changes you can make to improve the overall health of your spine. Sometimes small changes to your lifestyle can help you avoid the painful symptoms described in the following article.

Symptoms of foraminal narrowing

While foraminal narrowing alone does not cause symptoms, it can lead to a trapped nerve root in the foraminal canal, which can cause debilitating pain and discomfort. A compressed spinal nerve can cause symptoms such as pain, numbness, tingling, cramping, spasms and weakness. These symptoms can occur locally near the spine and throughout the nerve pathways into different areas of the body.

For example, a pinched nerve in the cervical (upper) spine may produce symptoms in the neck, shoulders, arms and hands. Foraminal narrowing in the thoracic (middle) spine may cause discomfort in the middle back, ribs and torso. An individual with this condition in the lumbar (lower) spine may experience pain in the lower back, hips, buttocks, legs and feet.

Treatments for foraminal narrowing

Foraminal narrowing is often treatable through conservative means, including pain medications, physical therapy, hot and cold compresses, anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants and low-impact exercises. If these noninvasive treatments prove ineffective after several weeks or months, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how the minimally invasive procedures we offer may be a viable option.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer a safer and effective treatment alternative to traditional open back surgery as well as a shorter recovery time and a lower risk of complication.^ For foraminal narrowing, our minimally invasive decompression surgery will remove a small portion of the degenerative disc or bone spur that is blocking a portion of the foraminal canal and trapping a nerve root.

In some cases, the entire damaged disc may be protruding too far into the foraminal canal and may need to be removed completely. For this situation, our board-certified surgeons+ will use a minimally invasive stabilization procedure to remove the entire degenerative disc and replace it with an artificial disc and sometimes a bone graft.

Reach out to Laser Spine Institute to learn about our minimally invasive procedures and to have one of our spine care experts review your MRI for free* to help you take the next step for foraminal stenosis pain relief. We can determine if you are a potential candidate for the procedures performed at our state-of-the-art facilities.