Types of foraminal stenosis, cervical, lumbar

Foraminal Stenosis

Types of foraminal stenosis categorized by their location in the cervical, thoracic and lumbar regions of the spine

To understand the different types of foraminal stenosis, it’s best to first understand what intervertebral foramina are and where they are located. An intervertebral foramen (plural, foramina) is a lateral passageway between the vertebrae that allows a nerve root to pass from the spinal canal into the body. Stenosis occurs when an intervertebral foramen begins to narrow, possibly placing pressure on the nerve root that passes through it.

While foraminal stenosis is quite common, many people may not even realize they have it. This is because it’s usually not until the narrowing passageway impinges on a nerve root that an individual will experience symptoms.

Types of foraminal stenosis and symptoms

Although foraminal stenosis may occur anywhere along the spine, the location of symptoms may help identify where the stenosis has developed. For example, foraminal stenosis in the cervical region, or neck, may cause symptoms to appear in the head, neck, arms and shoulders. Similarly, foraminal stenosis in the thoracic region, or middle back, may produce symptoms around the ribs, chest or stomach, while stenosis in the lumbar area, or lower back, may result in symptoms arising in the buttocks, legs and feet. Symptoms vary on a case-to-case basis; however, pain, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness are the most common indicators of foraminal stenosis.

Possible causes and risk factors

There are also many possible causes of foraminal stenosis. Bulging or herniated discs, hardened ligaments, arthritis or bone spurs tend to be the most common causes. Other factors such as obesity, family history, poor posture and certain lifestyle choices may also lead to foraminal stenosis, though physicians have no exact way of determining which combination of factors will lead an individual to develop the condition.

Treatment options

For most people with foraminal stenosis, mild pain relievers can help alleviate some of the minor aches and pains that may be experienced. Physicians may also recommend additional treatment options such as basic exercises or modifications to certain activities.

If you have tried these treatment methods and have found them to be ineffective, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn more about our minimally invasive procedures and how they have helped our patients with different types of foraminal stenosis.