Intervertebral foramen

An intervertebral foramen is an opening along the vertebral canal that allows a nerve root to exit the spinal cord and reach other parts of the body. There are two foramina, or openings, between every pair of stacked vertebrae, located on the left and right side of each vertebra. The intervertebral foramen is an important part of the link between the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system.

If neck or back pain is affecting your life, learning more about spinal anatomy and the conditions that affect it can be an important step in your treatment. This information can help you to better work with your doctor to make treatment decisions with the best chance of returning you to a full, active life.

Issues affecting the intervertebral foramen

A foramen can relate to cases of chronic neck pain or back pain if it becomes narrowed and puts pressure on a nerve root. There can be many causes of this narrowing, also called foraminal stenosis, but it is commonly related to either injury or aging. Specific conditions that can lead to constriction of an intervertebral foramen include:

  • Bulging disc
  • Herniated disc
  • Arthritis of the spine
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Bone spurs

Upon diagnosis, physicians will typically prescribe a course of conservative treatments to manage the symptoms of a condition affecting the intervertebral foramen. These conservative treatments can include exercise, pain medicine, anti-inflammatory injections, physical therapy and massage. Sometimes, chronic neck or back pain persists even after weeks or months of conservative treatment. If your mobility and quality of life continue to worsen, your physician may present surgery as an option.

Laser Spine Institute treatment options

The surgeons at Laser Spine Institute perform minimally invasive spine surgery to treat a range of spine conditions. One of our minimally invasive procedures is a foraminotomy, which widens the intervertebral foramen to relieve pressure from the affected nerve root. By using a less than 1-inch incision to access the spine, our surgeons can decompress nerves while avoiding the unnecessary muscle disruption of traditional open spine procedures. This leads to a shorter recovery time^ with less risk of complication for our patients.

Contact Laser Spine Institute today for a no-cost MRI review* to see if you may be a candidate our minimally invasive outpatient procedures.