Severe foraminal narrowing

Severe foraminal narrowing, or stenosis, occurs when the foraminal canal — the space next to the vertebrae that allows the nerve roots to exit the spinal canal — narrows due to age or another spine condition that has protruded into the empty space of the canal.

The risk is frequently increased by injury or overuse of the spine; the already narrow foraminal canals can become an even greater risk for pinched or compressed nerve roots if the space narrows severely. Symptoms from this condition only occur if a nerve becomes trapped by the narrowed walls of the foraminal canal. If this happens, the pain could occur at the site of the pinched nerve and also throughout the nerve pathway into the nearest extremity.

Because severe foraminal stenosis is often caused by age or degeneration of the spine, the symptoms will only worsen over time if not treated. Your best opportunity to find treatment before you suffer a decline in your quality of life is to recognize the symptoms of foraminal stenosis early on in the condition and find a treatment before it becomes severe.

Common symptoms for foraminal narrowing

Severe foraminal narrowing typically develops gradually but can be exacerbated by injury. Some of the typical symptoms associated with foraminal spinal narrowing (or spinal stenosis) include:

  • Local pain
  • Traveling pain
  • Spasms
  • Cramping
  • Soreness or stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Numbness and tingling in the extremities
  • Muscle weakness

Treatment options for foraminal narrowing

Treatment of severe foraminal narrowing generally starts out conservatively, with a variety of nonsurgical treatments that are designed to manage pain. Spine surgery is occasionally recommended when symptoms are greatly impacting quality of life or rapidly growing worse without responding to conservative treatment.

Pain medication, epidural injections, vertebral manipulation, physical therapy and other conservative treatments have all been effective for many patients. Your physician can recommend the best approach for conservative treatment based on your condition and medical history.

In the event that your condition has not responded to nonsurgical treatments and your pain continues, your physician may recommend spine surgery to re-establish space for the nerves in the foramina. If you are considering spine surgery, take a moment to research the minimally invasive surgery at Laser Spine Institute. Our procedures offer a safer and effective approach to traditional open back surgery, allowing our patients to experience a quicker recovery^ and less risk of complication or infection.

Our team will review your MRI report or CT scan and determine if you could be a potential candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery, depending on the cause, location and severity of your foraminal stenosis. Start the journey to pain relief today and contact Laser Spine Institute to request a review of your MRI report or CT scan.