Foraminal cervical stenosis
Foraminal cervical stenosis is a condition in which the foramina, or small canals between pairs of vertebrae, become narrowed in the cervical region (upper) of the spine.
Nerves must travel through these small canals in order to branch off and travel from the spinal cord to the rest of the body. When these foraminal canals narrow, the nerves that travel through them can become pinched or compressed. Outside of a pinched nerve, foraminal cervical stenosis does not often cause any pain or symptoms. However, when a nerve is compressed within the narrowing canal, symptoms can quickly develop.
Symptoms of foraminal cervical stenosis
Symptoms of foraminal cervical stenosis include neck pain as well as numbness, muscle weakness and a pins and needles sensation in the upper or lower body. These symptoms will often be radicular, meaning that they can travel down the nerve pathway into other parts of the upper body, affecting the shoulders, arms and hands.
Foraminal cervical stenosis typically only affects one side of the body, in contrast to bilateral foraminal stenosis where foramina on both sides of a vertebra are narrowed, causing symptoms to develop on both sides of the body.
Causes of foraminal cervical stenosis
Often, foraminal cervical stenosis develops as a result of another cervical spine condition. A degenerative condition can press into the foraminal canals, narrowing the available space through which the nerve roots travel.
Common causes of foraminal cervical stenosis include:
- Ligament thickening
- Herniated disc
- Enlargement of a joint
- Slipped or bulging disc
- Disc degeneration, commonly due to aging
- Osteophytes or bone spurs
Foraminal cervical stenosis is commonly caused by disc degeneration. As we age, our spinal discs can herniate or bulge, either of which can lead to constriction of the foramina in the cervical region of the spine. As the nerves of the neck are subjected to more pressure, the symptoms of foraminal canal stenosis worsen.
If you’ve been experiencing these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your doctor to determine the treatment options available to you.
Treatments for foraminal canal stenosis
Many times, foraminal canal stenosis can be treated through a series of conservative, nonsurgical methods. These methods include:
- Pain medication
- Physical therapy
- Weight loss
- Low-impact exercises
- Stretches and yoga
- Corticosteroid injections
If these treatments prove unsuccessful after several months, your physician may suggest foraminal stenosis surgery, especially if the condition is significantly diminishing your quality of life.
Laser Spine Institute provides an alternative to traditional open spine surgery. Our minimally invasive, outpatient procedures offer patients a shorter recovery time^ and no hospitalization costs, as well as a lower risk of complication compared to traditional open spine surgery.