What causes foraminal stenosis?

Foraminal stenosis describes the narrowing of one of more foramina, which are located on either side of the vertebrae. Nerve roots exit the spinal canal and travel to other areas of the body by way of the foramina. Because these small openings act as passageways for a large number of nerve roots, the risk of nerve compression increases when the foramina are constricted. Oftentimes, foraminal stenosis occurs as a result of another spine condition, such as a bone spur or bulging disc, that causes a piece of the spine to protrude into the foramina.

Symptoms of foraminal stenosis

Foraminal stenosis itself is usually asymptomatic. However, the resulting nerve compression can cause a series of uncomfortable symptoms, including:

  • Radiating pain
  • A tingling sensation
  • Numbness
  • Muscle weakness

Because foraminal stenosis tends to develop as a result of an age-related degenerative spine condition, these symptoms often appear slowly and gradually worsen over time.

Specific conditions that cause foraminal stenosis

As the spine ages and weakens over time, its components can deteriorate and shift out of alignment. The degenerative spine conditions that can lead to foraminal stenosis include:

  • Herniated discs
  • Bulging discs
  • Loss of disc height due to degenerative disc disease
  • Loss of vertebral stability due to facet disease
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Bone spurs caused by osteoarthritis

Treatment for foraminal stenosis

Foraminal stenosis is typically first treated with a course of conservative treatment options. Pain medication and epidural steroidal injections often help patients find relief and get back to their normal quality of life. However, if chronic pain persists after several months of conservative treatment, you should consider spine surgery to increase the space in your foramina and decrease your symptoms.

At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures to help remove the area of the spine that is narrowing the foramina and causing nerve compression. For many spine conditions that cause narrowing in the foramina, a decompression surgery can be used to remove the extruded piece and create more room in the canal. However, if the damaged piece of the spine is severe, a stabilization surgery may be necessary to remove the damaged piece altogether and insert bone grafts to stabilize the spine.

Our procedures have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain, and we are proud to hold a patient satisfaction score of 98 percent.^ For more information about the benefits of our minimally invasive spine surgery to treat foraminal stenosis, contact Laser Spine Institute today. We can provide a free MRI review* to determine whether you could be a candidate for our minimally invasive procedures.