Relieving foraminal stenosis symptoms with surgical and nonsurgical treatments
Nerve root compression related to foraminal stenosis can result in symptoms of pain, numbness, tingling and muscle weakness which travel along the length of the affected nerve. The location of these traveling symptoms is dependent on the location of nerve compression in the spine. For example, compression of a nerve root in the cervical (upper) spine causes discomfort in the head, neck, upper back, shoulders or hands. While a compressed nerve root in the lumbar (lower) spine causes symptoms to appear in the lower back, hips, buttocks, legs or feet.
The symptoms can be extremely disruptive to your life, straining your job and relationships and taking you away from your favorite activities. Treatment that can get you back to the quality of life you’re used to is possible, however. Learning about the full range of foraminal stenosis treatment options can help you work with your doctor and make the right decision for your care.
For many patients, conservative, nonsurgical treatments relieve the pain and discomfort caused by foraminal stenosis and compression of a spinal nerve root. Common nonsurgical treatments for foraminal stenosis include:
- Medication — which can consist of both over-the-counter and prescription options
- Physical therapy — including posture modification and strengthening exercises, massage therapy, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation
- Lifestyle changes — quitting smoking, becoming more physically active, reducing alcohol consumption and aiming for a healthy weight
Finding the optimal treatment plan might require some trial and error, as what relieves one patient’s foraminal stenosis symptoms might not be as effective for someone else.
Surgery for foraminal stenosis
If nonsurgical treatment proves ineffective after several weeks or months, a patient might be advised to undergo surgery. Traditional open neck and back surgery often requires a large muscle-tearing incision, several days of hospitalization and a sometimes-painful recovery period. Some patients who are advised to undergo surgery to relieve foraminal stenosis symptoms might be candidates for a minimally invasive spine surgery as an alternative to traditional open neck or back surgery. The board-certified surgeons+ at Laser Spine Institute perform minimally invasive spine procedures on an outpatient basis using a small muscle-sparing incision. This leads to many advantages, including a far lower risk of complications like infection.