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What is foraminal stenosis?

Foraminal stenosis (narrowing) is a spinal condition that is characterized by a reduction in the size of one or more nerve channels between vertebrae (foramen). This condition does not always cause discomfort or require treatment, but it can be problematic if sensitive spinal nerve roots become irritated or compressed. This effect can easily occur as the open space around nerve roots becomes narrower. A compressed nerve can produce neck or back pain around the site of the injury, as well as “referred” pain, numbness, muscle weakness or tingling sensations in an arm or leg.

What causes foraminal stenosis?

In most cases, foraminal stenosis occurs as a result of age-related changes in the spine. As spinal tissues break down, debris can become trapped within the foramen. For example, some typical sources of foraminal narrowing including bulging and herniated discs, bone spurs and cartilage fragments.

Over time, the spine naturally degenerates on its own. However, several factors can accelerate or contribute to the degenerative process, such as:

  • Poor posture
  • Repetitive motion and overuse
  • Participation in high-impact sports and other activities
  • Heavy lifting
  • Direct trauma to the neck or back
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking and other forms of tobacco use

How is foraminal stenosis treated?

If foraminal stenosis leads to nerve compression that causes symptoms, treatment can be effective for improving comfort and enhancing quality of life. While foraminal stenosis can be addressed with a surgical procedure designed to remove or reduce the source of nerve compression, it may be possible to achieve meaningful symptom relief without surgery. For instance, many people are able to find the relief they need with conservative measures, such as physical therapy, chiropractic manipulation and corticosteroid injections. In general, if nonsurgical treatment does not produce noticeable improvement within several weeks or months, surgery may be an appropriate next step.

If you’re interested in exploring minimally invasive spine surgery to address your foraminal stenosis at its source, contact USA Spine Care to request a free MRI review.* Our team can explain the benefits and risks of our minimally invasive outpatient procedures and help you decide if you are a candidate.

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