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What happens if you let spinal stenosis go untreated?

Foraminal stenosis treatment may be required if a tiny passageway (foramen) in your spine becomes partially or fully blocked. A foraminal obstruction can potentially irritate or pressure a spinal nerve root as it passes through a foramina to reach another part of your body. An irritated or compressed nerve can produce a number of uncomfortable symptoms, including pain, muscle weakness, numbness and tingling or burning sensations.

Because symptoms can occur at any point along an affected nerve’s pathway, issues may appear in seemingly unrelated areas of your body. For instance, in addition to developing around the site of the nerve compression in your neck or back, pain can “refer” into an arm or leg.

Is foraminal stenosis treatment always required?

The discomfort associated with spinal nerve compression caused by foraminal stenosis can vary widely in severity and duration. While many people choose to seek treatment to improve their quality of life, many do not elect surgery. Some nonsurgical options that can be very effective for alleviating mild-to-moderate symptoms include medications, corticosteroid injections and physical therapy, which can stabilize the spine, strengthen the muscles that support it and enhance flexibility. Oftentimes, a relatively simple regimen consisting of low-impact exercises and over-the-counter medications is sufficient.

Sometimes, however, nerve compression symptoms progressively worsen and become very severe. Without appropriate treatment, foraminal stenosis can sometimes lead to serious complications, including permanent:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness
  • Coordination and balance problems
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control (signs of an emergency medical condition known as cauda equina syndrome)

Surgery for severe foraminal stenosis symptoms

If you ultimately decide to pursue surgical foraminal stenosis treatment, a traditional open neck or back procedure may not be your only option. The surgeons at USA Spine Care perform minimally invasive outpatient surgery, which is often clinically appropriate and provides many advantages versus traditional open surgery, including less surgical risk and a faster recovery.^ While the specific surgical techniques used for each procedure can vary, all involve small incisions and muscle-sparing techniques.

If you’d like to learn more, contact USA Spine Care and ask for a free MRI review.* We can discuss your options and help determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive surgery.

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