What causes foraminal stenosis?

Foraminal stenosis, which is the narrowing of the foraminal canals on the top and bottom of the vertebrae, is often caused by the development of another spine condition that has protruded into the space in the canal.

The purpose of the foraminal canal is to allow nerve roots to exit the spinal canal and travel to other areas of the body. Because this small canal is a heavily trafficked area with nerve roots, the constriction of the passageway can lead to an increased risk of nerve compression. Nerve compression in the foraminal canal can lead to chronic symptoms such as:

  • Radiating pain
  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Muscle weakness

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

Specific conditions that cause foraminal stenosis

As the spine ages and weakens over time, the components of the spine 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

Because the foramina are relatively isolated within the spinal column, many of the typical conservative treatment methods used for neck and back pain — including exercise, stretching and physical therapy — might not be as effective. However, that does not mean that this condition cannot be treated with nonsurgical methods. Pain medication and epidural steroidal injections often help patients find pain 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 foraminal canal 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 foraminal canal and causing nerve compression. For many spine conditions that cause narrowing in the foraminal canal, 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 an artificial disc and/or bone grafts to stabilize the spine.

Our procedures have helped more than 60,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain and avoid the unnecessarily high risks of complication and lengthy recovery time^ associated with traditional open back surgery.

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