Bilateral stenosis is a condition in which the openings on both sides of a vertebra become narrowed, often putting pressure on the spinal nerves that pass through these canals. This condition is also known as bilateral foraminal stenosis because the passageways on either side of the vertebrae are called foraminal canals.
There are two foramina at each vertebral level. With bilateral stenosis, both of these openings narrow, as opposed to the more common lateral stenosis, in which only one foraminal canal narrows and symptoms are confined to one side of the body. When both sides of the foraminal canal narrow and cause bilateral stenosis, the symptoms of a pinched nerve in the foraminal canal can travel to both sides of the body.
Causes of bilateral stenosis
Various types of stenosis in the spine can result from different degenerative spine conditions, such as:
- Disc degeneration
- Slipped discs
- Bulging discs
- Herniated/ruptured discs
- Congenital defects
The most common cause of this condition is disc degeneration, such as a bulging disc that has protruded into the foraminal canal and trapped a nerve. The area of your body that shows symptoms depends on the position of the affected foramina and nerves. Usually, compressed nerve roots in the upper part of the neck and back will cause symptoms in the head or upper torso, whereas those in the lower back can impact the legs and feet, and can even cause difficulties walking and controlling bladder/bowel function.
Treatment options for bilateral stenosis
Conservative treatments for bilateral stenosis include physical therapy and exercise, rest, pain medication, steroid injections and anti-inflammatory medicine. When the condition is not responding to these treatments, however, your physician may recommend surgery.
If your physician has said your bilateral stenosis is severe enough to warrant surgery, but you want a second opinion, contact Laser Spine Institute today for your MRI or CT scan review. We are the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery for the treatment of degenerative neck and back issues such as spinal stenosis, neural stenosis and more.
Because of our minimally invasive approach to the spine, our spine surgery is a safer, more effective treatment option than traditional open back surgery. For patients with a severely herniated or bulging disc causing the bilateral stenosis, we can remove the disc and replace it with an artificial disc through our minimally invasive stabilization procedure. Our surgeons are able to accomplish this surgery through a small incision without disrupting nearby muscles or ligaments.
For more information about our minimally invasive spine surgery, or to have our surgeons review your MRI or CT scan, contact Laser Spine Institute today.