What is Foraminal Narrowing?
Foraminal narrowing of the spine occurs when the foraminal canal narrows and becomes constricted. This is often caused by other spine material like a herniated disc or bone spur. This condition commonly occurs as a result of the natural deterioration and weakening of the spine with age, though sometimes this condition develops in relation to injury or trauma.
While the foraminal narrowing does not cause any pain or symptoms on its own, it does create a high risk for nerve compression in the spine. This passageway is the opening through which the nerve roots in the spinal canal travel to the rest of the body. Therefore, if this passage becomes constricted or narrows, there is a high risk that a nerve root will become trapped. A trapped or compressed nerve root can cause severe, chronic pain that occurs not only at the site of the nerve compression but also through the length of the nerve pathway into the extremities.
What Symptoms are Related to Foraminal Stenosis?
- Muscle weakness
Schedule an appointment with your physician if you experience chronic pain in your arms or legs. This is a great time to ask about foraminal narrowing or other degenerative spine conditions that may be causing nerve compression. Being able to recognize the symptoms of foraminal narrowing can help you identify the condition quickly and begin treatment before the pain worsens.
Conditions Affecting the Foramina
A number of degenerative spine conditions can cause a narrowing of the foramina, including:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Herniated disc
- Bulging disc
- Collapsed disc
- Bone spurs
As the spine weakens with age, and other factors like obesity and inactivity create additional pressure on the spine, the discs and joints can wear down and cause misalignment. For example, when a facet joint deteriorates, the two surrounding vertebrae rub together with every pivot and movement of the spine. This can cause a bone spur to grow next to the joint, which can narrow the available space in the foraminal canal.
Once your physician identifies the cause of your foraminal narrowing, they can begin to recommend treatments.
Treating Foraminal Narrowing
In many cases, the discomfort caused by foraminal narrowing can be relieved through conservative methods of treatment. These treatments are designed to help relieve pressure on the pinched nerve. This works by lengthening and realigning the spine and by strengthening the surrounding muscles to help support and hold the spine in alignment.
Common conservative treatments used for foraminal narrowing include:
- Pain medications
- Physical therapy
- Hot/cold therapy
- Lifestyle changes
Many patients also explore alternative therapies such as chiropractic care, yoga, pilates, and acupuncture. You should always consult your doctor before beginning a treatment plan for neck pain, back pain, or related symptoms.
If you still experience pain after experimenting with conservative therapies, surgery may be an option. While traditional surgery options are always available, modern technology has led to the development of minimally invasive techniques. For quality care on an outpatient basis, contact BEST today. Look forward to seeing the BEST version of you.