What causes foraminal stenosis?

Have questions about foraminal stenosis causes? Read this helpful article from Laser Spine Institute.

Many people diagnosed with foraminal stenosis are unsure of what the condition means. Before you make any decision regarding your spine care, you should always have an understanding of what is happening in your spine and the treatment options available to you.

“Foramen” is a word for a “canal or opening,” and “stenosis” is derived from a Greek word meaning “narrowing.” Therefore, foraminal stenosis literally means the narrowing of the foraminal canal, which is a passageway formed by the facet joints above and below each vertebra.

Because this canal is already narrow, there are several causes that can decrease the passageway even further, which can increase the risk of nerve compression if one of the traveling nerve roots become trapped within the canal. Identifying the cause of your foraminal stenosis can help your physician recommend the best treatment options available for your condition.

Degenerative spine conditions and foraminal stenosis

While some people are genetically predisposed to foraminal stenosis, the most common cause of foraminal stenosis is the natural aging process.

The foraminal canal can become clogged with debris or narrowed by degenerative spine conditions that develop with the weakening and deterioration of the spine, such as:

  • Spinal arthritis
  • Bone spur
  • Herniated disc
  • Bulging disc
  • Spondylolisthesis

When these conditions press into the foraminal canal, nerve compression may occur. The symptoms of foraminal stenosis can range in severity from numbness and tingling to a throbbing pain that radiates from the neck and back to the extremities. These symptoms can worsen over time, ultimately limiting your ability to perform daily activities like walking the dog, jogging or playing golf for extended lengths of time.

Treatment for foraminal stenosis

If you’ve seen a physician because of these painful effects, you’ve likely considered traditional foraminal stenosis treatments like pain medication, massage or open back surgery. But if traditional treatments haven’t worked for you, or you’ve experienced failed back surgery syndrome, it may be time to explore one of the minimally invasive spine procedures offered at Laser Spine Institute.

Our minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute works to alleviate the pain and symptoms of foraminal stenosis by removing the pressure on the pinched nerve in the foraminal canal. This can be achieved through two types of surgery: decompression or stabilization, though for many patients, our decompression surgery is the most appropriate method of treatment for moderate foraminal narrowing. Our stabilization surgery is only used to treat conditions that threaten the stability of the spine.

To help our patients find peace of mind about spine surgery, our procedures offer a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery. Contact Laser Spine Institute and find out why more than 75,000 patients have found pain relief with our minimally invasive procedures.