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Foraminal Stenosis

Foraminal stenosis, also known as foraminal narrowing, is an abnormal reduction in the size of nerve channels associated with certain spinal bones called foramina (or foramen, in the singular). It is one form of a larger disorder known as spinal stenosis.

Symptoms
Foraminal stenosis may produces symptoms of a nerve-damaging condition called radiculopathy. Additional symptoms may include:

Common symptoms of Foraminal Stenosis include:

  • In the lumbar spine: pain, numbness, tingling, burning, and weakness in the lower back, buttocks, legs, and feet. If impingement affects one of the roots of your sciatic nerve, you can develop sciatica
  • In the cervical spine: pain, numbness, tingling, burning, and weakness in the neck, arms, hands, and sometimes in the head
  • In the thoracic spine (less common): pain, tingling, or numbness in the upper or mid back, radiating through the stomach or chest, which patients often confuse for cardiovascular problems

Prior to having a surgical procedure to treat your foraminal stenosis, conservative measures such as physical therapy, chiropractic, and steroid injections should be attempted. If these measures do not meaningfully relieve your pain, a North American Spine procedure may be the best option for long-term relief.

Causes
In addition to aging, foraminal stenosis may develop as a consequence of one or more of a few other problems:

Additional common Foraminal Stenosis causes include:

  • Age-related wear and tear, which can lead to Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Scoliosis. A genetic condition causing curvature in the spine, scoliosis can also lead to the development of foraminal stenosis.
  • Back or neck strain due to repetitive physical activity, poor posture, imbalances in the musculature, or heavy lifting
  • Direct physical injury such as a car accident or fall
  • Genetics, whether or not the symptoms appeared in your parents
  • Arthritis, which can lead to joint deterioration
  • Herniated discs in the spinal column.

Treatment
North American Spine partner physicians have the broadest range of minimally invasive solutions for your back or neck pain. Depending on the location and severity of your pain, your treatment will fall into one of the following categories:

  • Decompression: Minimally invasive decompression surgery aims to relieve pressure on the spinal nerves. This pressure can be caused by many conditions. Using a surgical laser, if necessary, soft tissue will be removed and pressure on nerves will be relieved. For more on decompression, see Decompression.
  • Stabilization/Fusion: Minimally invasive stabilization/fusion surgery aims to restore spinal stability lost to collapsed discs. Diseased material is removed and stability is regained by fusing vertebrae or replacing diseased material with specialized hardware. For more on stabilization, see Stablization
  • Injections: Injections aim to reduce inflammation, block pain, and/or aid in the regeneration of healthy nerve passages. These procedures often are not permanent solutions, but they may be repeated when pain returns. They are extremely quick procedures with virtually no recovery time.
  • Other Procedures: North American Spine partner physicians may suggest other types of procedures, including the placement of a Spinal Cord Stimulator, an implanted device that blocks the pain signals created by a variety of conditions. For more on our other procedures, see Other Procedures.

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