Those suffering from foraminal stenosis know the pain it can cause in their daily lives. This condition occurs when foramina (passageways located between the spinal vertebrae allowing nerves to travel from the spinal cord to other areas of the body) either narrow or become obstructed by bone, soft tissue or scar tissue. This is different from spinal stenosis, which occurs when the central spinal canal itself narrows.
Symptoms of foraminal stenosis
Foraminal stenosis causes pain when the nerves traveling through the narrowed passageways become compressed. This pain develops over time, is noncontinuous and is exacerbated when the sufferer moves into a certain position or performs a certain activity. The pain may remain localized, or may radiate to other areas of the body (foraminal stenosis in the cervical spine may cause pain in the neck, shoulders, arms and hands, while foraminal stenosis in the lumbar spine may cause pain in the hips, buttocks, legs and feet). Sufferers may also experience numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, abnormal reflexes or muscle spasms. If foraminal stenosis is ignored, it may also cause the affected nerves to die, leading to loss of feeling and movement.
Common causes of foraminal stenosis
- Spinal degeneration. Foraminal stenosis is generally caused by gradual age-related spinal degeneration. This deterioration can lead to various spinal conditions that cause the foraminal passageways to narrow or become obstructed, including arthritis, bulging or herniated discs, bone spurs, swollen facet joints, thickened or hardened ligaments, spondylolisthesis and inflamed soft tissue.
- Injury. Foraminal stenosis can be caused by injury, whether through sudden impact or repetitive movement.
- Genetic predisposition. Some people are genetically predisposed to develop foraminal stenosis, including those who are born with exceptionally small foraminal passageways, those who suffer from scoliosis or Paget’s disease and those who have inordinately high fluoride levels in their bodies.
- Lifestyle. People who carry excess weight, smoke or fail to exercise also have a higher chance of developing foraminal stenosis.
USA Spine Care
While many people suffering from foraminal stenosis may achieve relief through conservative treatment, such as targeted exercise or medication, some may require surgery. USA Spine Care offers a minimally invasive foraminotomy, a decompression procedure where a surgeon enlarges the affected foraminal passageway to relieve pressure on the enclosed nerve. Contact us to learn whether you may be a candidate for our outpatient surgery.