What are the symptoms of foraminal stenosis?

Foraminal stenosis describes the narrowing of the foraminal canal on either side of the vertebrae that allows the nerves to leave the spinal cord.

This condition is not painful on its own, but it does increase the risk of developing a pinched nerve near the spine, which does result in pain and symptoms. Therefore, the symptoms of foraminal stenosis are not necessarily caused by the condition itself, but rather by nerve compression from a nerve being trapped in the narrowed canal.

For this reason, the symptoms of foraminal stenosis can occur at the site of the nerve compression in the neck or back and travel along the nerve pathway into the closest extremity (arm or leg). The possible symptoms of foraminal stenosis include:

  • Local pain at the point of the nerve compression
  • Traveling pain along the impinged nerve
  • Numbness or tingling in the extremities associated with the impinged nerve
  • A feeling of pins and needles or extreme heat
  • Muscular weakness

What is foraminal stenosis?

The foraminal canal is a passageway for nerves to travel out of the spinal cord and to the rest of the body. It is located on either side of the vertebrae and is already narrow, meaning any additional narrowing can greatly constrict the passageway and increase the risk of nerve compression.

The most common cause of foraminal narrowing is another degenerative spine condition that has caused the alignment of the spine to shift, such as a herniated disc or bulging disc. Other common causes of foraminal stenosis can include:

  • Natural deterioration of the spine
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Bone spurs
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Arthritis of the spine
  • Facet joint disease

Once your physician determines what is causing your foraminal stenosis, he or she can recommend a treatment designed to relieve nerve pressure and reduce your symptoms.

Treatment for foraminal stenosis

For many patients, the first step of treatment for foraminal stenosis begins with a series of conservative methods. The three most common conservative treatments for foraminal stenosis are exercise (stretching), behavior modification and pain medication. Your physician should monitor your results on these treatments to make sure you are finding effective pain relief.

If chronic symptoms continue after several months of nonsurgical treatment, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn about the benefits of our minimally invasive spine surgery for treating foraminal stenosis. Our procedures allow our patients to have a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery so they can avoid a lengthy recovery^ and unnecessary increased risk of complication and infection.

To find out if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery, contact Laser Spine Institute today and request a review of your MRI report or CT scan.