Foraminal spinal stenosis — Causes, symptoms and treatment options

Foraminal spinal stenosis

Foraminal spinal stenosis, also known as foraminal stenosis, is a condition that describes the narrowing or constriction of the foraminal canals. The foraminal canals are the pathways that allow the nerves to travel from the spinal cord to the spinal canal.

In most cases of foraminal spinal stenosis, the foramen on one side of the vertebra is affected, so the symptoms are felt on one side of the body. However, bilateral foraminal stenosis means that both sides of the body are affected because both the left and right-branching foramina have narrowed.

Causes of foraminal spinal stenosis

Generally, foraminal spinal stenosis occurs because the foramina become clogged or constricted by surrounding tissue. One of the leading causes for this is the development of another spine condition.

For example, if another spine condition develops near the foraminal canal, it can press into the space in the canal, thereby narrowing the available path for the nerves to travel. These nearby degenerative conditions can be any of the following:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Herniated disc
  • Bulging disc
  • Bone spurs
  • Arthritis of the spine
  • Facet joint disease

These conditions can restrict the passageway in the foraminal canals. If the nerves traveling through the canal are placed under excessive stress because their passageway is narrowed, painful symptoms can develop.

Foraminal stenosis symptoms

Foraminal stenosis symptoms can be debilitating and may even impair your daily activities. Common symptoms of foraminal spinal stenosis include:

  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Muscle weakness
  • Burning sensation
  • Stiffness
  • Limited mobility

If bladder and bowel dysfunction develop, this could be a sign of a medical emergency called cauda equina syndrome, and you should seek immediate treatment.

Treatment for foraminal spinal stenosis

For many patients, the symptoms of foraminal spinal stenosis can be effectively managed through a series of conservative, nonsurgical treatments. Once your doctor has determined the exact cause for the narrowing of your foraminal canals, he or she will likely recommend one of the following common methods of conservative treatment:

  • Pain medication or anti-inflammatory medication
  • Limited rest
  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractic care
  • Low-impact exercises
  • Stretches
  • Weight loss
  • Corticosteroid injections

If these treatments prove ineffective after several months, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about a minimally invasive option for treatment.

Laser Spine Institute provides an alternative to traditional open back surgery. Our surgeons use minimally invasive techniques to relieve pressure on spinal nerves and help you regain an active life.

Contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn more. We can also provide a free MRI review* to find out if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive procedures.