Overview of bilateral foraminal stenosis
Bilateral foraminal stenosis describes the narrowing of the foramina, which are canals located on each side of the vertebrae in the spinal column. These openings serve as the spaces through which nerve roots travel as they pass from the spinal column into the spinal canal and out to the rest of the body.
There are two foramina on each vertebra, one to serve the left side of the body and one for the right. Bilateral means that both foraminal openings become constricted, whereas lateral neural foraminal stenosis means that only one opening on one side of the vertebrae narrows. Stenosis is a term for the constriction itself.
Symptoms of bilateral foraminal stenosis
When the foramina become so narrow that they begin to put stress on the nerves, symptoms of bilateral foraminal stenosis may include pain, weakness, tingling and numbness.
These symptoms will affect both sides of the body and can negatively affect everyday activities. Foraminal stenosis in the upper part of the spine, or cervical foraminal stenosis, can cause symptoms in the head, shoulders, arms and other parts of the upper torso, whereas stenosis in the lower spine, or lumbar foraminal stenosis, can impact the legs and feet, which can lead to impaired walking or bladder and bowel function.
Causes of bilateral foraminal stenosis
Many times, bilateral foraminal stenosis is caused as a result of another degenerative condition within the spine. When components of the spine wear down over time, they can press into the foraminal canals and limit the space that the nerve roots travel through.
Potential causes of bilateral foraminal stenosis include:
- Spinal disc herniation
- Bulging disc
- Disc degeneration
- Osteophyte or bone spur growth
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Arthritis of the spine
Bilateral foraminal stenosis caused by a disc herniation, a slipped disc or a bulging disc typically means that damaged disc material is protruding into one of the foramina, constricting the space through which the nerve passes, thereby applying pressure on the nerves.
Treatments for bilateral foraminal stenosis
Your physician may recommend conservative treatments for bilateral foraminal stenosis, including a combination of two or more of the following methods:
- Physical therapy
- Low-impact exercise
- Pain medication
- Weight loss
- Chiropractic care
- Corticosteroid injections
If the condition does not respond to conservative treatments after several months, however, your physician may recommend bilateral stenosis surgery. This type of procedure helps restore the space within the foraminal canals and relieves pressure on the pinched nerve roots.
Contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more about the minimally invasive spine surgery we offer as an alternative to traditional open spine procedures. We are able to help patients find relief without the hospital-associated costs and increased risks involved with traditional spine surgery. Our minimally invasive procedures provide patients a lower risk of complication and shorter recovery times^ in comparison.
We are happy to offer a no-cost MRI review* to find out if you are a candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures.