What should I do if I think I have foraminal stenosis?

Foraminal stenosis refers to narrowing of the small openings, called foramina, in the spinal column where nerves exit and travel out to the body. If this narrowing leads to compression of a nerve root, it can result in symptoms like shooting pains, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness both locally and in the upper extremities.

This is not a self-diagnosable condition and proper treatment requires the partnership of a medical professional, such as your primary care doctor. If you think you have foraminal stenosis, either from researching this condition or previous experience, the following information is intended to ease your anxiety about what a visit to your doctor should involve.

See your physician first

When experiencing chronic neck or back pain, regardless of the suspected source, it’s important to visit your physician as soon as possible. Be prepared to answer a wide range of diagnostic questions, including:

  • Where does it hurt? The location of the pain is an important first clue.
  • Is the pain constant or occasional? Pain experienced for longer than three months is called chronic. Pain experienced suddenly is called acute.
  • When did the pain first occur? Pain with longer duration could be a sign of a serious injury or long-term degeneration.
  • Is it a sharp pain, a radiating pain, a dull ache, numbness, or tingling? The form of the pain also is a clue to its origin.
  • Have you performed any recent activity that might have caused or contributed to the pain? Repetitive motion or poor posture can cause different kinds of neck and lower back pain.
  • Have you been injured recently? Muscle strain or ligament sprain are common causes of neck and back pain in the cervical and lumbar regions of the spine.
  • Has anyone in your family experienced similar pain? Some causes of back and neck pain, such as degenerative disc disease, can be hereditary.

To reach a diagnosis, a doctor or specialist should also review you and your family’s medical history and perform a physical examination with movement tests. Diagnostic tests like an X-ray, MRI, nerve tests and blood work may also be required to identify or rule out a cause.

Treatment for foraminal stenosis

If foraminal stenosis is the diagnosed cause of symptoms, in most cases treatment will begin conservatively. This can include stretching exercises, weight management, posture improvement, physical therapy, medication and epidural injections. However, if chronic symptoms persist after weeks or months of conservative treatment and surgery becomes an option, contact Laser Spine Institute before consenting to a highly invasive traditional open spine procedure. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is a safer and effective alternative, providing our patients with an outpatient procedure and a shorter recovery time compared to traditional open spine surgery.^

To learn more, reach out to our dedicated team of Spine Care Consultants for a no-cost MRI review* to find out if you may be a candidate for a minimally invasive procedure at Laser Spine Institute.