Overview of Bilateral foraminal stenosis including causes and treatments

Bilateral stenosis of the foramina 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
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Congenital defects

A 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, where 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. However, if the condition is not responding to these treatments, your doctor may recommend surgery.

If you are exploring your surgical options, reach out to Laser Spine Institute. We are the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery for the treatment of degenerative neck and back issues such as spinal stenosis. By using muscle-sparing techniques, our surgeons can access the spine with a less than 1-inch incision, resulting in an outpatient procedure with less risk of complication compared to traditional open neck or back procedures.

For more information about our minimally invasive spine surgery or a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan* to determine if you are a potential candidate, contact Laser Spine Institute today.