Neural Foraminal Stenosis – What You Should Know

A Guide to Foraminal Stenosis

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with neural foraminal stenosis or you’re simply curious about the condition, it can be very useful to have a brief overview of the condition so you can understand what it is, how it happens, and how to treat it. 

What is Neural Foraminal Stenosis

A quick breakdown of the phrase “neural foraminal stenosis” gives you a glimpse into how the condition affects the spine. “Foraminal stenosis” refers to the narrowing of the foramen, which are holes in the spinal bones through which nerve roots run. The narrowing can be triggered by nearly any change in the spinal anatomy, such as a bulging disc or the growth of a bone spur due to spinal osteoarthritis. “Neural” refers to those nerve roots which can be compressed and “pinched” when their channels become narrower. It is the compression of these nerves that leads to symptoms. These symptoms occur at any point down the affected nerve. 

What it does

Neural foraminal stenosis symptoms can resemble those caused by many other conditions occurring in the spine and elsewhere. Symptoms also radiate along the affected nerve so a pinched nerve in the neck may produce symptoms in the arms or shoulders while an affected nerve in the back may result in symptoms that travel to the buttocks, hips, or legs. Such issues include: 

  • Burning or shooting pains
  • Dull aches
  • Numbness
  • Tingling sensations
  • Muscle weakness or unexplained limitations of mobility

Your Treatment Options

The key to stopping foraminal narrowing symptoms is to alleviate the pressure that is placed on the nerve. Often non-surgical therapies like regular exercise, stretching, physical therapy, and others can help provide relief. Medications can address pain and swelling in short term and give the patient a chance to participate in other treatment methods. Most physicians will recommend that their patients use a trial and error approach to care. Which can take weeks or months to see what works best for your needs. 

In some cases when conservative therapies don’t provide sufficient relief, patients may consider surgery. Spine surgery can address the underlying cause of the condition (such as a bulging disc) or make more room for the pinched nerve, it has the potential to help when other methods have failed. 

As opposed to traditional, open spine surgery, BEST Health System performs minimally invasive spine surgery on an outpatient basis. It also requires no lengthy recovery. If you’d like to learn more about the outpatient neural foraminal stenosis surgery that we perform, contact BEST Health System today.