Living with Foraminal Narrowing

Foraminal narrowing, or the narrowing of canals within the spine, can greatly affect the daily life of anyone who has this condition. The spine is densely packed, and any one component being out of place can easily affect others. Such is the case for foraminal narrowing, which limits the space through which nerve roots run from the spine to other areas of the body – sometimes enough to place pressure on those nerves. That can lead to foraminal narrowing symptoms anywhere along the path of the affected nerve, including pain, numbness, muscle weakness, and even limited mobility. So, if you have foraminal narrowing, you’re probably looking into managing foraminal narrowing symptoms. 

Diagnosing Foraminal Narrowing

Diagnosing foraminal narrowing requires a physician and some imaging, as with most degenerative spine conditions. During a consultation, your physician will begin by a review of your medical history, followed by a physical exam. Based on this consultation, your physician may order imaging to find the exact condition causing your pain. 

Diagnosing foraminal narrowing requires one of the following imaging scans:

  • X-rays
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Computerized tomography (CT Scan)

What Causes Foraminal Narrowing?

Before you can discuss foraminal narrowing treatments with your doctor, you must identify the cause of your condition. For example, if your foraminal narrowing is caused by a herniated disc protruding into the foraminal canal, the treatment should be focused on the herniated disc. Your doctor will perform physical and imaging tests to determine the cause of your condition. Some of the causes include:

  • Herniated disc
  • Bulging disc
  • Bone spur
  • Spinal arthritis
  • Spinal degeneration
  • Spondylolisthesis

Managing Foraminal Narrowing Symptoms

The first step in many foraminal narrowing treatment regimens is addressing the immediate symptoms, such as pain. Often, these foraminal narrowing symptoms are managed by taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or pain relievers to make getting through the day a bit easier. With several types of over-the-counter and prescription drugs available for these purposes, it’s best to consult with a physician to see which options would be the most beneficial in your specific case. 

Living with foraminal narrowing requires a few lifestyle changes to help improve overall health, Some can even alleviate the pressure placed on the affected nerve, giving the patient relief, even if it is only temporary. Some changed you might want to consider include:

  • Stretching regularly
  • Getting regular, low-impact exercise
  • Attending physical therapy sessions
  • Practicing yoga
  • Eating a healthy, nutritious diet

When is Surgery Necessary?

The vast majority of people with foraminal narrowing find that their foraminal narrowing symptoms improve after weeks or months of avoiding harmful activities and finding ways to manage pain and discomfort. Living with foraminal narrowing can be managed through a treatment plan specific to your needs. If you are part of the minority that notices their foraminal narrowing symptoms have remained the same or worsened, you may wish to consider the minimally invasive spine surgeries performed by BEST Health System. Contact the BEST Health system team today to learn if you are a candidate for surgical intervention. Don’t let pain determine your future, it’s time to get ahead of it. The BEST is yet to come.