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What you should know about neural foraminal stenosis

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with neural foraminal stenosis or you’re simply curious about the condition, it can be very useful to have a brief overview of the condition so you can understand what it is, how it happens and how to treat it.

What it is

A quick breakdown of the phrase “neural foraminal stenosis” gives you a glimpse into how the condition affects the spine. “Foraminal stenosis” refers to the narrowing of the foramen, which are holes in the spinal bones through which nerve roots run. Narrowing can be triggered by nearly any change in the spinal anatomy, such as a bulging disc or the growth of a bone spur due to spinal osteoarthritis. “Neural” refers to those nerve roots, which can be compressed and “pinched” when their channels become narrower. It is the compression of these nerves that leads to symptoms, which may occur at any point down the affected nerve.

What it does

Neural foraminal stenosis symptoms can resemble those caused by many other conditions occurring in the spine and elsewhere, so diagnosis can be difficult. Symptoms also radiate along the affected nerve, so a pinched nerve in the neck may produce symptoms in the arms or shoulders, while an affected nerve in the lower back may result in symptoms that travel to the buttocks, hips or legs. Such issues include:

  • Burning or shooting pains
  • Dull aches
  • Numbness
  • Tingling sensations
  • Muscle weakness or unexplained limitations of mobility

How it can be treated

The key to stopping foraminal narrowing symptoms is to alleviate the pressure that is placed on the nerve. Often, nonsurgical therapies like regular exercise, stretching, physical therapy and others can help provide relief. Medications can be used to address pain and swelling for short-term relief and to give the patient a chance to participate in the other treatment methods. Most physicians will recommend that their patients use a trial-and-error approach to care, taking a few weeks or months to see what might work for their needs.

In some cases, when conservative therapies don’t provide sufficient relief, patients may consider surgery. Because spine surgery can address the underlying cause of the condition (such as a bulging disc) or make more room for the pinched nerve, it has the potential to help when other methods have failed.

As opposed to traditional, open spine surgery, USA Spine Care’s minimally invasive spine surgery is performed on an outpatient basis and requires no lengthy recovery. If you’d like to learn more about the outpatient neural foraminal stenosis surgery that we perform, contact USA Spine Care today.

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