Severe right foraminal stenosis (narrowing) is a term used by physicians to describe a spinal nerve that is being pinched at the point where it exits the spinal canal on the right-hand side of a vertebra. In a healthy spine, nerve roots are able to pass freely through small openings (foramina) between vertebrae. Foraminal narrowing is a condition that causes this already limited space to become further narrowed. The source of the constriction is usually excess tissue produced by degenerative changes in the spine, such as a bone spur or herniated disc. These changes can occur suddenly through trauma or gradually as a result of the natural aging process.
What does severe right foraminal stenosis feel like?
It is important to understand that the narrowing effect itself is not problematic. Rather, it is the spinal nerve compression that results from the narrowing that can potentially cause discomfort, such as neck or back pain and radiating nerve pain. The latter symptom, which is known as radiculopathy, can produce symptoms in seemingly unrelated areas of the body. For instance, in the:
- Cervical (upper) spine — Foraminal narrowing that causes nerve compression in the neck can produce pain, numbness, tingling sensations and muscle weakness in a shoulder, arm or hand.
- Lumbar (lower) spine — Foraminal narrowing that causes nerve compression in the lower back can produce pain, numbness, tingling sensations and muscle weakness in a buttock, leg or foot.
In essence, symptoms can develop at any point along the pathway of a compressed spinal nerve.
What can be done about severe right foraminal stenosis?
To relieve symptoms that are painful or disruptive, most physicians initially suggest conservative treatment. Some potentially effective options include activity modifications, weight loss, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroid injections, physical therapy and bracing. In order to achieve sufficient relief, however, a surgical procedure such as a foraminotomy is sometimes necessary to address the source of the foraminal stenosis itself.
If you are exploring your surgical treatment options, you are encouraged to contact USA Spine Care. We can provide a free MRI review* to help determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive outpatient surgery.
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