When to seek a foraminal stenosis diagnosis

Foraminal stenosis is a spine condition that describes the narrowing of the foraminal canal, which is the passageway next to the spine that allows nerves to exit the spinal cord and travel to the nearby extremities.

Because foraminal stenosis is often developed as a result of another degenerative spine condition — a herniated disc or bone spur merging into the foraminal canal — the symptoms may be easy to overlook. Often, symptoms of foraminal stenosis will begin gradually and may be mistaken as general muscle soreness. While symptoms may begin gradually and sporadically, they will continue to worsen over time if left untreated. For this reason, it is important for you to understand the symptoms of foraminal stenosis so you know when to seek medical attention for your condition.

Symptoms of foraminal stenosis

Recognizing the symptoms of foraminal stenosis can help you seek treatment for your pain before your symptoms become debilitating. The most common symptoms of foraminal narrowing include:

  • Chronic or intermittent neck or back pain
  • A burning pain that shoots into the shoulder, buttock or leg
  • Numbness in the extremities
  • A feeling of pins and needles
  • Muscular weakness

Since the foraminal canal is the exit canal for nerves to leave the spine and travel to the extremities, a pinched nerve in this canal can cause local pain near the spine and radiating pain into the extremity. If the pain you are experiencing lasts more than a week or so, you should schedule an appointment with your physician to determine the cause of your symptoms. If you are given a foraminal stenosis diagnosis, your physician can collaborate with you to find a good treatment option for your needs.

Treatment after a foraminal stenosis diagnosis

Three of the most common conservative treatment methods for foraminal stenosis are exercise (stretching and strength training), behavior modification training and epidural corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation and pain. If chronic symptoms persist after several weeks of nonsurgical treatment, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn whether a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure known as foraminotomy may be able to alleviate your symptoms.

Our minimally invasive decompression surgery can help relieve pressure on the impacted nerve root by removing a portion of the disc or bone spur that has protruded into the foraminal canal. This is accomplished through a less than 1-inch incision that avoids disturbing the local core muscles. In some instances, the surgeon will suggest that the entire damaged disc or vertebra be removed because it is no longer able to support the spine. The surgeon will then replace the damaged disc or vertebra with an artificial disc and/or a bone graft from the patient’s hip or pelvis.

Laser Spine Institute patients can experience a safer and effective treatment and shorter recovery time^ than patients who opt for traditional open back surgery. Because we have a minimally invasive approach to spine surgery, we perform each surgery as an outpatient procedure at one of our seven world-class surgery centers across the country.

For more information about how our minimally invasive spine surgery can treat foraminal stenosis, contact Laser Spine Institute and ask for a review of your MRI report or CT scan.