How Foraminal Stenosis Affects The Spine
The spine is composed of vertebrae, cartilage, joints, discs, ligaments, and muscles that all work together to support the body and allow for movement and flexibility. The spinal canal houses the spinal cord and nerves. Foraminal passageways allow important nerves to branch away from the spinal cord so they can travel to other areas of the body. When the foraminal passageways or canals begin to narrow or become obstructed it is called foraminal stenosis.
Foraminal stenosis usually causes painful symptoms when the narrowing of the canal causes a pinched nerve. Symptoms include:
- Pain that can be local or radiate toward the extremities
- Numbness or loss of sensation
- Muscles weakness
The natural aging process and everyday wear and tear are the primary cause of spine conditions such as foraminal stenosis. Although the age-related decline of the spine is the main cause of foraminal stenosis, any of the following can also contribute to accelerating the narrowing of the canals:
- Herniated or bulging disc
- Injury or trauma
- Bone spurs
- Repetitive movements
- Being inactive
- Being overweight
Treatment Options For Foraminal Stenosis
Many patients find symptom relief with conservative treatment options such as:
- Physical Therapy. Physical therapy can be used to target abdominal muscles in order to build strength and increased flexibility. Therapy may also include therapeutic massage, in addition to targeted exercise and stretching.
- Pain Medication. Medication, over-the-counter or prescription, can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Pain medication can ease symptoms so you can fully participate in physical therapy and low-impact exercise. Your physician may even recommend steroid injections.
- Heat And Ice Therapy. Alternating heat and ice can effectively reduce symptoms. Heat therapy helps to increase circulation while ice therapy helps to reduce swelling and inflammation.
In addition to the treatment options above quitting smoking, losing weight, and practicing good posture can also help with symptoms caused by foraminal stenosis. However, if conservative treatment options are unsuccessful after a few months, it might be time to consider surgical options to resolve the symptoms of foraminal stenosis.
If you have been suffering from painful symptoms of foraminal stenosis, contact BEST Health System. We can help you find relief with our minimally invasive procedures.