Neuroforamen — overview

Neuroforamen refers to the empty space to the left and right of each vertebra that allows nerves to pass from the spinal cord to other parts of the body. A neuroforamen can go by other terms, such as neural foramen or simply foramen. The word foramina can also be used, which is the plural form of foramen.

Each of the nerve roots is comprised of a dorsal nerve root and a ventral nerve root, both of which go through a neuroforamen. The neuroforamen and the nerve roots that travel through them are often related to chronic cases of neck and back pain. If your life is being affected by pain, learning about spinal anatomy can help you better understand your condition and work with your doctor to get the relief you need.

Narrowing of the neuroforamen

Any pressure or constriction that causes a neuroforamen to narrow can affect the spinal nerves. Narrowing of the spine is called spinal stenosis, or more specifically foraminal stenosis, if it affects the foramina.

If nerve roots become compressed in a neuroforamen, it can interrupt or intensify the signals going through the nerve. Symptoms of constricted neuroforamen may include the following sensations at the site of compression as well as traveling symptoms to other areas of the body. These symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Weakness
  • A pins and needles sensation
  • The feeling of intense heat

There are many possible conditions that can cause a neuroforamen to narrow, for example, spinal disc degeneration due to aging. As we get older, our discs begin to deteriorate and can bulge or rupture, causing disc material to enter the space of a neuroforamen and exposing your nerves to unwanted stress.

Treatment options

Upon diagnosis of a spinal condition affecting one or more neuroforamen, conservative treatment may be suggested, such as physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications and steroid injections. When weeks or months of conservative options do not bring the relief you need, surgery can become an option.

If you are considering surgery but are concerned about some of the difficulties that come with traditional open procedures, there are alternatives. The surgeons at Laser Spine Institute perform minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery that can access the spine with a small incision, leading to a shorter recovery time^ and less risk of complication for our patients.

Contact Laser Spine Institute today for your no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures.