Neural foraminal narrowing is a spinal condition that occurs when a foramen — a tiny opening between vertebrae that allows nerve roots to branch away from the spinal cord — becomes partially or fully blocked. As a result, a sensitive nerve root can easily become irritated or pinched within the passageway. A compressed spinal nerve can produce varying degrees of discomfort ranging from mild neck or back pain to debilitating numbness in a hand or foot.
How does a spinal foramina become obstructed?
Most often, foraminal narrowing is caused by degenerative changes in the spine that take place along with the natural aging process. As the spine gradually weakens and deteriorates, the foramen can become constricted by excess or displaced tissue, such as:
- A bulging or herniated disc
- A spinal bone spur (osteophyte)
- A bone or cartilage fragment
- An inflamed facet joint
- A thickened ligament
What to do if foraminal narrowing is causing you pain
Neural foraminal narrowing can be uncomfortable, but the discomfort does not have to become a way of life. What’s more, surgery is not necessarily a foregone conclusion. While the effectiveness of various treatment approaches can differ among individuals, many people are able to find meaningful relief with one or more nonsurgical therapies, such as exercise, stretching, over-the-counter pain relievers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and hot and/or cold compresses. Your best bet is to work with a physician who can recommend an app1ropriate plan for you, monitor your progress and adjust your treatment regimen as necessary.
In general, if your foraminal narrowing symptoms do not improve with several week or months of conservative treatment, your physician may suggest that you consider surgery. If you are thinking about having a surgical procedure to address neural foraminal narrowing, contact USA Spine Care. Our minimally invasive outpatient surgery is performed through a small, muscle-sparing incision, which minimizes disruption to surrounding tissues and muscles. As compared to traditional open spine surgery, our procedures involve a lower risk of infection and a faster recovery.^ Our team can provide you with a free MRI review* to help determine if you are a candidate.
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