If you’ve been diagnosed with foraminal narrowing, you’ve likely wondered what caused this condition, and whether there was anything you could have done to prevent it. Foraminal narrowing (also referred to as “foraminal stenosis”) occurs when something exerts pressure on the foramina (the small openings in the spine), causing the nerves within those openings to become irritated.
Although foraminal narrowing can result from many factors, the most common cause of this condition is the natural aging process. Below are three age-related foraminal narrowing causes:
- Osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that occurs when the cartilage in joints begins to wear down over time, causing the connecting bones to rub against one another. When this occurs in the spinal joints, the grinding between surrounding vertebrae can cause bone spurs to form, which can in turn compress the foramina.
- Degenerative disc disease. As we grow older, our spinal discs begin to lose water content, making them flatten and become increasingly brittle. This deterioration can cause a number of spine conditions to develop. A disc may herniate, for example, if the exterior shell of one of the affected discs cracks and allows the inner disc material to leak out into the spinal canal. Or, one of the affected discs could allow a vertebra to slip forward over the one below (a condition known as spondylolisthesis). In either case, the out-of-place material could cause the foramina to narrow.
- Ossification. Over time, muscles and ligaments can harden into a bone-like material through a process referred to as ossification. As with bone spurs, this hardened material can exert pressure on the foramina.
If you’ve been diagnosed with foraminal narrowing, you may be able to relieve your symptoms using conservative treatment methods, which may include pain medication, corticosteroid injections and physical therapy. In some cases, however, that may not be enough. If these or other conservative techniques haven’t been able to alleviate your pain, you may qualify for USA Spine Care’s minimally invasive foraminotomy procedure. Our surgeons use minimally invasive surgical techniques to remove the material that is compressing your foramina and exerting pressure on the nerves within. For more information, please contact USA Spine Care today. We will be happy to perform a free MRI review* to help determine whether you’re a candidate for our minimally invasive procedures.
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