Neural stenosis, also referred to as neural foraminal stenosis, is the narrowing of the foraminal canal — the openings through which your nerves pass from the spinal cord to the rest of your body.
The word “neural” means “nerves” and refers to the fact that neural stenosis affects the nerves or nervous system of your body. The term “stenosis” means constricting or narrowing, specifically the narrowing of the foraminal canals.
Neural stenosis is a relatively common condition among older adults due to the degenerative nature of this condition. As the spine wears down with age, the foraminal canals can begin to narrow. However, there are other causes and contributing factors to neural stenosis that you should be aware of in order to find the most appropriate treatment method.
Causes of neural stenosis
While the natural aging process is often the most common cause of neural stenosis, there are several other causes for narrowing of the foraminal canals.
For example, another degenerative condition in the spine can press into space within the foraminal canal, causing the canal to narrow. Common conditions that can contribute to neural stenosis include:
- Bulging disc
- Herniated disc
- Disc degeneration
- Bone spurs
- Facet joint disease
Another possible, though less common, cause of neural stenosis is injury or sudden trauma to the spine.
Symptoms of neural stenosis
Many people with neural stenosis have no symptoms because their foramina are still large enough to allow the nerves to pass through without becoming pinched. However, if the opening becomes too narrow, it can put pressure on a passing nerve, causing a series of painful symptoms.
Common neural stenosis symptoms include:
- Muscle weakness
- Burning sensation
- Limited mobility
- Difficulty walking (if condition is in lower back)
If you begin to experience these symptoms, your doctor can help you find a treatment option for pain relief.
Treatments for neural stenosis
The first step to treating neural stenosis is often through conservative treatment methods. Conservative treatments describe any methods of treatment that are not surgical. Many times, these treatments can be combined to help accelerate pain relief.
Common conservative treatments include:
- Pain medication
- Physical therapy
- Chiropractic care
- Low-impact exercises
- Stretches and yoga
- Weight loss
- Corticosteroid injections
If after several months you’ve exhausted all conservative treatments and you’re still in chronic pain, contact Laser Spine Institute.
We offer minimally invasive spine surgery as an alternative to traditional open back surgery. Because our procedures use a smaller incision, our patients experience a lower risk of complication compared to traditional spine surgery.