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Foraminal narrowing

What is foraminal narrowing?

Foraminal narrowing, also called foraminal stenosis, is the medical term that describes the reduction of space in the spine’s foramina, the small openings in the spinal column through which nerve roots run. The narrowing of the spine’s foramina may not cause symptoms, but this reduction of space can lead to the compression of a nerve root that passes through the foramen, which can cause a number of painful symptoms.

How is foraminal narrowing diagnosed?

An accurate foraminal narrowing diagnosis can be achieved by consulting with a physician who can assess your symptoms and perform a physical examination. They can also order a medical imaging test such as an MRI, CT scan or X-ray to determine the exact location and cause of your pain.

What causes foraminal narrowing?

Foraminal narrowing is most often caused by degenerative spine conditions that develop as a result of the natural aging process. These conditions cause anatomical changes in the spine and can include bulging or herniated discs, facet disease, bone spurs, degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis and more. These degenerative spine conditions most commonly occur as part of the natural aging process, since the spine’s components often weaken over time.

What are the symptoms of foraminal narrowing?

Symptoms of foraminal narrowing occur when the condition leads to the compression of a nerve root. These symptoms can include pain, numbness, tingling, muscle weakness and muscle spasms, and can manifest in different areas of the body depending on which region of the spine is affected. For example, nerve root compression in the cervical (upper) spine can lead to symptoms in the neck, shoulder, arm and hand, while nerve root compression in the lumbar (lower) spine can cause symptoms to occur in the hip, buttock, leg and foot.

How is foraminal narrowing treated?

Treatment for foraminal narrowing usually involves a combination of conservative treatment methods aimed at managing the patient’s symptoms. Some commonly used methods of conservative treatment include an initial period of rest, corticosteroid injections, pain medication, hot/cold therapy and physical therapy. It is critical that these treatments are only utilized under the care of a physician to prevent further damage, as well as any potential drug interactions.

Do I need surgery for foraminal narrowing?

In many cases, surgery for foraminal narrowing is only recommended to patients who have not found relief after several weeks or months of conservative treatment. Patients for whom surgery has been recommended should take the time to research the many procedures, facilities and surgeons available to them to ensure they choose the option that is most appropriate for their individual situation.

One facility that patients turn to time and time again is Laser Spine Institute in Tampa, Florida, where our board-certified surgeons+ perform minimally invasive, outpatient procedures as alternatives to traditional open spine surgery. Performed through a less than 1-inch incision, our procedures have many advantages over traditional open neck or back surgery, including a reduced risk of complications like infection and failed back surgery syndrome.

To learn more about the advantages of our procedures, or to receive a no-cost review* of your MRI to determine if you are a candidate, contact Laser Spine Institute today.