Foraminal stenosis occurs when the vertebral foramen, which is the opening in the vertebra that contains the spinal cord, becomes narrower than it should be. The narrowing can occur for a variety of reasons, including degenerative disc disease or a buildup of debris in the foramen over time. This condition can occur at any level of the spine, but is most common in the lower back (lumbar area) or neck (cervical area). As the foramen narrows, it presses on the spinal cord, which leads to a long list of uncomfortable and painful symptoms.
How Do I Know If I Have Foraminal Stenosis?
If you are suffering from foraminal stenosis, you will most likely experience tingling or numbness in the affected area of your back. Depending on the location of the stenosis, you may also feel numbness and tingling in the arms and/or legs.
Cervical foraminal stenosis (stenosis in the neck) typically causes symptoms in the hands, arms and shoulders, whereas lumbar foraminal stenosis (stenosis in the lower back) can cause symptoms in the legs. As the condition worsens, your symptoms will become stronger and may eventually lead to loss of sensation and muscular weakness, if not treated.
What exactly causes vertebral narrowing to occur? Several different spinal conditions can cause the vertebral foramen to narrow. Bone spurs, spinal arthritis, spinal debris, enlargement of a joint in the spinal canal, or inflammation of surrounding tissue can cause foraminal stenosis.
Do you worry you may be suffering from foraminal stenosis? Try our Condition Check Tool below to find answers and begin the first steps at finding back pain relief.
What is the Right Treatment for Me?
If you have foraminal stenosis, our doctors stick to conservation methods of treatment before resorting to more invasive methods to treat the stenosis. One of the first treatments you will be prescribed is physical therapy, which includes specific exercises to stabilize and strengthen the back and/or neck. Engaging in general exercise, such as stretching, walking or swimming is also recommended.
Neck or back braces, massage treatments, acupuncture and anti-inflammatory medication are treatment methods recommended in addition to physical therapy. In some cases, steroid injections to decrease inflammation in the affected area may be needed.
When conservative pain management methods have been exhausted, surgery to reduce pain caused by foraminal stenosis is typically recommended. A foraminotomy is the typical procedure offered by doctors, but at NJ Spine & Orthopedic, our doctors specialize in an advanced procedure called a laminoforaminotomy to effectively eliminate pain.
If you or someone you love is possibly suffering from foraminal stenosis, try our Treatment Check Tool to find out if this treatment is right for you.