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When foraminal stenosis causes chronic pain that won’t go away, discover how Laser Spine Institute can provide relief

Foraminal stenosis is similar to spinal stenosis in that they both involve some type of narrowing of the spine. Spinal stenosis can refer to the narrowing of the spinal canal, while foraminal stenosis is the specific narrowing of the nerve root exits, called the foramina. This exit generally allows the nerves that are exiting the spinal cord to flow freely. However, when displaced anatomy restricts this space, patients may experience severe pain and symptoms as the nerves trying to exit the foramen are impacted and compressed by the walls of the narrow passageway.

How physicians diagnose foraminal stenosis

When you visit your primary care physician to obtain a diagnosis for foraminal stenosis, your appointment will most likely start with an open discussion of your medical history and symptoms. Then, he or she will conduct a physical examination, which will include tests to measure your range of motion. Once foraminal stenosis is suspected, you may need to undergo a medical imaging test, like a CT scan, MRI or X-ray, to confirm your diagnosis.

Factors known to cause foraminal stenosis

Individuals with a family history of foraminal stenosis may be genetically predisposed to the condition. Additionally, foraminal stenosis often develops as an effect of the natural aging process, causing the spinal foramina to narrow as the different components of the spine degenerate. There are several spine conditions that have been known to cause foraminal stenosis. These include:

  • Bone spurs
  • Herniated or bulging discs
  • Spinal arthritis
  • Spondylolisthesis

Foraminal stenosis symptoms commonly seen in Laser Spine Institute patients

Though foraminal stenosis alone is not symptomatic, when the narrowing of the foramen becomes severe, the nerves may become pinched. This can cause a number of symptoms including:

  • Weakness
  • Tingling
  • Radiating pain
  • Numbness
  • Inability to walk or stand for long durations of time
  • Burning sensations
  • Trouble sleeping

If you are experiencing these symptoms, we want you to know that there are several surgical and nonsurgical treatment options available to you.

Nonsurgical treatments for foraminal stenosis

When you are first diagnosed, consult your physician about starting a conservative treatment regimen to reduce your pain and symptoms. To find the right combination of conservative treatments to manage your symptoms, your physician will likely take several factors into consideration, including the individual symptoms you are experiencing, your lifestyle and your overall health. For most patients, conservative foraminal stenosis treatment may consist of:

  • Pain and anti-inflammatory medication
  • Hot/cold therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Stretching

In addition to conservative treatment, alternative treatments such as herbal supplements, yoga, Pilates, chiropractic manipulation and acupuncture have also been reported successful in relieving the pain and other symptoms associated with foraminal stenosis. Consult your doctor before trying any of these treatments.

Foraminal stenosis surgery from Laser Spine Institute

If conservative treatments fail to offer you relief, then surgery may be the best option to treat your foraminal stenosis. Laser Spine Institute specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery to help treat foraminal stenosis, including:

  • Foraminotomy — performed in order to widen the narrowing caused by the foraminal stenosis
  • Discectomy — performed in order to remove any disc material that may be restricting the space and causing the foraminal stenosis
  • Anterior cervical discectomy fusion (ACDF) — performed in order to remove the disc material that is causing the narrowing, while fusing the area to prevent future instability.
  • Transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) — performed in order to add a spacer and bone graft into the area of the damaged disc, relieving the stenosis and adding increased stability.
  • Lateral lumbar interbody fusion — performed in order to fuse the adjacent vertebrae while opening the narrowing caused by the damaged disc by removing the disc and adding a spacer to the area

For more information regarding foraminal stenosis treatments at our Tampa center, contact Laser Spine Institute today. We offer a no-cost MRI review* to determine if you may be a candidate for one of our procedures.