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What does mild right foraminal narrowing mean?

Foraminal stenosis, or narrowing, is a relatively common condition that occurs when a tiny opening (foramen) within the spine becomes constricted. If you’ve been diagnosed with mild right foraminal stenosis, you might understandably be concerned. But, even though this term is not widely known, the condition it describes is very common.

In essence, your diagnosis means that one or more foramen on the right-hand side of your spinal column has become obstructed by debris, such as herniated disc material or a bone fragment. The foramen serve the important function of protecting spinal nerve roots, allowing the nerves to pass freely between vertebrae as they exit the spinal cord and travel to distant areas of the body. Therefore, foraminal narrowing can potentially lead to spinal nerve compression.

Should I be concerned about mild right foraminal stenosis?

Foraminal narrowing often results from natural, age-related changes in the spine, and it may or may not be painful. Typically, if symptoms occur, they are a result of nerve compression rather than the obstruction itself.

A pinched spinal nerve can produce symptoms at any point along its pathway. Therefore, discomfort can appear in seemingly unrelated areas of the body. For instance, in addition to neck or back pain in the area of nerve compression, foraminal stenosis can cause:

  • Pain that radiates from the neck through a shoulder, arm or hand
  • Pain that travels from the lower back through a buttock, leg or foot
  • Pins-and-needles sensations along the pathway of the affected nerve
  • Leg muscle weakness

What can I do about my foraminal stenosis symptoms?

Many people are able to find relief from mild-to-moderate discomfort with conservative treatment. Some potentially effective options for addressing nerve compression symptoms caused by mild right foraminal stenosis include regular stretching and exercise, over-the-counter pain relievers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and hot and/or cold compresses.

If you continue to experience discomfort after several weeks or months of nonsurgical treatment, you might want to explore your surgical options. Surgery can address your symptoms at their source by reducing pressure on a pinched spinal nerve. If you’d like to learn more, contact USA Spine Care. We can tell you about the benefits of our minimally invasive outpatient surgery and provide a free MRI review* to help determine if you are a candidate.

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