Common Misconceptions about Foraminal Narrowing

What is Foraminal Narrowing?

Foraminal narrowing, or foraminal stenosis, is a degenerative spine condition many people don’t fully understand. This condition describes a situation where one of the foramina – the narrow passageways between the vertebrae through which the nerve roots exit the spinal canal – becomes narrowed, potentially constricting the nerves within the canal. This article intends to clarify some of people’s most common misconceptions about this condition.

Clearing Up a Few Misconceptions

Here are four examples of the misconceptions that people sometimes have about foraminal stenosis:

  1.  Foraminal narrowing is unusual — Foraminal stenosis is a common degenerative spine condition in patients of all ages. While the name may seem intimidating, remember many patients are dealing with the same condition as you.
  2. Foraminal stenosis always causes symptoms — While foraminal stenosis is often diagnosed when a patient complains of chronic pain, the condition is not symptomatic in and of itself. Many people have narrow foramen but don’t experience pain.  Foraminal narrowing usually only causes symptoms when the narrowing results in nerve compression.
  3. Foraminal narrowing requires surgery — In most cases, the first step is to attempt to manage symptoms nonsurgically, usually with a regimen of conservative methods like the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, low-impact exercise, and hot/cold therapy. Patients can typically avoid surgery unless they have exhausted all conservative treatment options without results.
  4. Foraminal narrowing was caused by something the patient did — There are countless potential causes of spinal narrowing, and it is difficult to predict precisely who will experience the condition. Generally speaking, physicians have identified risk factors that may make a person more susceptible to neck and back problems. Many otherwise healthy individuals get develop foraminal narrowing all the time.

Foraminal Narrowing Treatment Options

If a doctor gives you a diagnosis of foraminal narrowing or any other degenerative spine condition and you have not found the relief you require from conservative treatment, BEST can help. Our minimally invasive spine procedures allow patients to enjoy a shorter recovery time, less risk of infection, and smaller incisions. Contact BEST Health System today to speak with a patient care coordinator about being a patient with us.