The narrowing of the spinal foramina — openings between vertebrae that allow nerves to exit the spine — can be a painful condition. Your doctor may recommend a course of conservative treatment options, with medication for foraminal narrowing being a common recommendation along with rest, hot and cold compression and physical therapy. If foraminal narrowing is affecting your life, learning about the causes of this condition and commonly recommended medications can help you better work with your doctor for a return to normal, comfortable activity.
Causes of foraminal narrowing
The foramina are openings on either side of a vertebra. These canals protect the spinal nerves as they branch off from the spinal cord and travel to other parts of the body. Foraminal narrowing, also known as neural foraminal stenosis, is when the foramina become constricted by a spine condition such as a herniated or bulging disc, bone spurs, spinal tumors, fractures or other spinal conditions.
Foraminal narrowing causes the nerve traveling through it to be compressed. Nerve compression can result in shooting pains along the pathway of the affected nerve. Radiating symptoms, like numbness, weakness and tingling may also be felt in the arms or legs, depending on the location of the constriction. Upon diagnosis, medications are often used to treat the resulting nerve pain, or neuralgia, that stems from foraminal stenosis.
Types of medications
Here are some typical medications included by doctors in treatment plans for foraminal narrowing:
- Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Your physician may initially recommend NSAIDs. These drugs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, can help reduce inflammation and might be effective in treating mild or moderate pain.
- Antidepressants and anti-seizure drugs. These drugs have been used more recently to treat nerve pain, as they seem to dampen pain signals.
- Steroids. Steroids, such as cortisone, may be suggested if tissue inflammation surrounding the foraminal narrowing is evident. The medication can be taken orally or injected in the form of epidural steroid injections and nerve root blocks.
- Opioids. Opioids are a type of prescription narcotic, which are generally reserved for severe pain cases. When combined with NSAIDs, opioids can be effective in reducing inflammation as well as pain.
USA Spine Care
Medication for foraminal narrowing, along with other conservative treatments, can often reduce and relieve symptoms. However if weeks and months go by and conservative options are exhausted without bringing necessary relief, surgery may start to become a serious option.
Minimally invasive spine surgery at USA Spine Care provides many benefits compared to traditional open neck or back procedures. Because our surgeons use a less than 1-inch incision and other muscle-sparing techniques, we can effectively treat conditions like foraminal narrowing while offering patients a shorter recovery time and less risk of complication than traditional open spine surgery.
Contact us today for a no-cost MRI review* that can help you determine if you are a candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures.
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