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Foraminal Stenosis

Foraminal Stenosis

At every level of the spine (cervical, thoracic and lumbar), nerves exit through a small canal called the foramen or foraminal canal. Nerves usually have plenty of room in the foramen, but if the canal gets too narrow, it can compress or pinch the nerves. This is called foraminal stenosis.

Causes of Foraminal Stenosis

Constriction of the nerve roots in the foraminal canal can be caused by any number of spinal conditions, including:

  • Bone spurs
  • Herniated disc
  • Arthritis

Foraminal stenosis can also be caused by the enlargement of a joint (the uncinate process) in the spinal canal.

Symptoms of Foraminal Stenosis

Foraminal stenosis can produce a type of pain called radicular pain, which is pain that radiates into the extremities directly along the course of a specific spinal nerve root.

It is often a deep and steady pain that can be worsened with certain activities such as sitting or walking. It can be accompanied by numbness and tingling, muscle weakness and loss of specific reflexes.

Diagnosis of Foraminal Stenosis

A variety of diagnostic tests may be performed, including X-rays to visualize bony irregularities and MRI scans to reveal any soft tissue injuries. If the problem is caused by an arthritic condition, medication or physical therapy may be recommended. Most causes of foraminal stenosis can be resolved without surgery, although this will depend on the specific situation.

Preventing Foraminal Stenosis

Patients can reduce their risk of foraminal stenosis by maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding activities that place pressure on the spine. In addition, for at-risk patients, an exercise regimen may help strengthen supporting muscles around the spine and lower the risk of foraminal stenosis.

Treating Foraminal Stenosis

In most cases, the treatment for foraminal stenosis is specific to its cause. For example, a herniated disk can be treated with non-surgical interventions like physical therapy or chiropractic.

Many patients with arthritic conditions will benefit from medication or physical therapy to reduce the symptoms of foraminal stenosis. Surgery may be recommended in some cases, but this will depend on the specific underlying condition causing the stenosis.

The multidisciplinary team at Comprehensive Medical Care offers a variety of treatment options to address foraminal stenosis and reduce pressure on the spinal nerves.

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