Mild foraminal narrowing

Mild foraminal narrowing is a degenerative spine condition that describes the narrowing of the foraminal canals — the canals that branch off of the vertebrae and allow the spinal nerves to exit into the spinal canal.

This condition is not necessarily symptomatic and often goes completely unnoticed at the beginning of its development. However, once the foraminal canal narrows to the point that it constricts a nerve root traveling through the canal, symptoms of pain and limited mobility can develop and affect the spine and other areas of the body.

The spinal column

In between the individual vertebrae in the spinal column, small passageways or “canals” exist that allow nerves to enter and exit the spinal column. These canals are known as the foramina (or singular, foramen) and have the very important task of protecting the nerves while they travel.

As we grow older and the spine naturally weakens with age, the foraminal canals are prone to narrowing. This is often a condition that develops as a result of another degenerative spine condition that has developed with age. For example, a bulging disc may protrude into the foraminal canal, causing the space to narrow. Likewise, a bone spur or another degenerative spine condition can develop and limit the area within the foraminal canal for the nerve roots to travel through.

Symptoms of mild foraminal narrowing

Symptoms of foraminal narrowing only develop if a nerve is compressed within the foraminal canal. Some of the most common symptoms associated with mild foraminal narrowing include:

  • Radiating pain to the arms or legs
  • A feeling of pins and needles or a burning sensation along the nerve
  • Unexpected muscle weakness or fatigue
  • Localized pain at the site of the compression
  • Soreness or pronounced stiffness
  • Numbness or tingling, particularly in the extremities

If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor to discuss your available treatment options.

Treatment options

In many cases, mild foraminal narrowing only requires moderate conservative treatment. Pain medication, anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants and hot/cold compresses are often effective treatments for mild foraminal narrowing pain relief.

In the event that your foraminal narrowing continues to worsen, your physician may recommend surgery to relieve the pressure on your pinched nerve.

If you have been recommended for spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about the benefits of our minimally invasive spine surgery. We can provide a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a candidate for our treatments.