Foraminal stenosis occurs when the space between spinal discs narrows and nerves are compressed as a result. The condition does not occur suddenly; rather, it is a narrowing and nerve pain that occurs slowly over time, sometimes over many years. In most cases, foraminal stenosis occurs naturally as a part of aging. Some people, however, are genetically predisposed to developing this condition.

The pain related to foraminal stenosis tends to occur primarily during certain activities or in certain positions, and is not constant. This pain occurs most often in the cervical (neck) region, but may also occur in the lumbar (lower back) region.

Foraminal stenosis may be caused by:

  • Enlarged joints
  • Bone spurs
  • Collection of debris (perhaps from disc degeneration)
  • Spinal arthritis
  • Traumatic injury
  • Obesity
  • Repetitive stress
  • Vertebral slippage

Use of radiological testing like X-rays, MRIs, CT scans and bone scans can help to rule out other possible conditions such as spinal tumors, injuries or birth defects. Through a thorough examination of your symptoms, medical history and any necessary imaging, a qualified neurologist like Dr. Neece can determine whether or not your pain is related to genuine foraminal stenosis.

Treatments for symptoms of foraminal stenosis may include non-surgical options like massage, epidural injections, pain medications, or even antidepressant or anti-seizure drugs (which can be helpful in blocking pain signals). In more severe cases where the narrowing is significant and creates a great deal of pain or disability, treatment may involve using a spinal surgery called a “foraminotomy” to open up the disc space and alleviate compression of the nerves. This type of surgery can be performed as an open spinal surgery, or as a minimally-invasive endoscopic surgery. The latter is meant to achieve the same goal as the former, but at a significantly lower risk.

If you are experiencing pain, numbness, tingling or muscle weakness during certain activities or in certain positions and you suspect it may be related to foraminal stenosis, contact our clinic to set up an appointment for an evaluation.