Foraminal stenosis — neck

Foraminal stenosis in the neck (cervical spine) is a common cause of local pain as well as other neurological symptoms in the upper body. This is because stenosis is a shrinking of the canals that house the spinal nerves as they exit the spinal cord. As the diameter of these canals, known as the foramina, shrink, the nerves can become compressed, which can lead to chronic pain and symptoms.

For some patients, the narrowing of foraminal stenosis does not result in symptoms. That is because the narrowing of the canal itself does not change the integrity of the spine to cause pain. It is only if a nerve root becomes pinched or compressed that symptoms will develop.

Symptoms of foraminal stenosis in the neck

Stenosis is typically considered a degenerative condition, meaning the foramina gradually shrink over time, eventually leading to a multitude of potential symptoms. Depending on the pathology of the nerve compression, symptoms of foraminal stenosis can include local chronic neck pain, muscle weakness in the shoulders, arms and hands, and even numbness or tingling in the fingers.

A number of conditions can cause a narrowing of the foramina, but foraminal stenosis in the neck and back is most commonly a result of the following degenerative conditions:

  • Regular aging or arthritis in the spine
  • Bulging or herniated intervertebral discs
  • Bone growths and other spinal abnormalities
  • Degenerative disc disease

Treatment for foraminal stenosis in the neck

Foraminal stenosis treatments vary depending on the source and severity of the condition. Normally, the symptoms of foraminal and spinal stenosis in the neck can be managed conservatively, with bed rest, physical therapy, exercise, painkillers, and the application of heat and ice. If these nonsurgical options don’t alleviate the neck pain, however, you may consider surgical treatment options.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure known as a foraminotomy. Unlike traditional open back surgery, Laser Spine Institute’s foraminotomy is able to widen the foraminal canal through a small incision that does not require the ripping and cutting of muscles and ligaments. This minimally invasive approach offers our patients a safer and effective procedure with a shorter recovery time^ than traditional spine surgery. We offer both minimally invasive decompression surgery to remove a small portion of a bone spur or damaged disc in the foraminal canal, and a minimally invasive stabilization surgery to replace a damaged disc or vertebra with an artificial disc or bone graft.

To learn more about foraminotomy, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our team of fellow-ship trained surgeons are leaders in minimally invasive spine surgery, and we can provide you with your MRI or CT scan review to find out if you are a candidate for our outpatient procedures.