Get a second opinion

Check insurance coverage

Get a cost estimate

EMI Calculator


Your spine is made up of 33 bones or vertebrae which have a narrow opening to let the nerves pass through. Foraminal stenosis occurs when the foramina or the openings within the spinal canal (the hollow cavity that runs through each vertebra) narrow or tighten. This can compress the spinal nerves eventually affecting the signals traveling through them. 

Foraminal stenosis can lead to pain, weakness, and numbness in the regions where the particular nerves supply. So, what causes foraminal stenosis? how is it treated? & how can this be prevented? This article will give you a better insight into these facets. 

What Is Foraminal Stenosis?

The vertebrae or bones that make up your spine consist of small openings called the foramina through which nerves pass to the rest of your body. Foraminal stenosis is a condition when these tiny openings tighten/narrow pinching the nerves passing through them. This leads to pain, weakness, and numbness in parts of the body the nerve serves.

Most cases of foraminal stenosis do not show any symptoms and in cases that are symptomatic, it can cause pain, numbness, or tingling sensation in certain areas. Here, let’s take a detailed look at the signs and symptoms of foraminal stenosis. 

What Are The Symptoms of Foraminal Stenosis?

Cervical Stenosis

This happens when the tiny opening in your neck or cervical spine bone tightens or narrows. This causes sharp and burning pain in the neck, shoulders, and arms. You may experience mild numbness and weakness in your arms and hands. 

Thoracic Stenosis

This type of foraminal stenosis develops in the thoracic vertebrae or the upper portion of your spine. The pinched nerves in your back can cause pain and numbness that may be felt in the front of your body. In fact, this is the most common type of foraminal stenosis.

Lumbar Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is the most commonly found type and it develops in the lumbar vertebrae or the lower back. People with lumbar stenosis experience pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness in the buttocks, legs, and foot region. Your pain may worsen while bending, twisting, reaching, coughing, or sneezing.

What Causes Foraminal Stenosis?

Common causes of foraminal stenosis include:

  • Advancing age: As you age your spine may undergo degenerative changes due to wear and tear.
  • Back injuries: Certain injuries to your back can lead to the formation of scar tissue or cause structural changes that can increase the risk of developing foraminal stenosis.
  • Inflammatory conditions: Certain conditions such as degenerative disc diseases can affect the spinal bones and the surrounding tissues. 
  • Previous surgery: Foraminal stenosis can be the result of an unsuccessful surgery that was done to treat back problems.
  • Abnormal spine structure: Anatomic defects in the spine can also result in foraminal stenosis.

Apart from these, here are some less common causes of foraminal stenosis:

  • Paget’s Disease: It is a chronic condition that affects the bones, resulting in abnormal bone remodeling and growth.
  • Spondylolisthesis: Here one vertebra in the spine slips out of its proper position and onto the vertebra below it. 
  • Cysts or Tumors: Cancerous & benign growths can narrow the gaps between the spinal cord and add pressure on the spinal nerves. 
  • Genetic Conditions: Individuals with genetic conditions such as dwarfism (height 4ft 10 or below) are more at risk of developing foraminal stenosis due to abnormal spine formation.

How Is Foraminal Stenosis Diagnosed?

What is the first sign that could indicate having spinal stenosis? Well, if you have pain that begins from your spine and radiates to your arms and legs accompanied by numbness or tingling, then you need to consult an orthopedist immediately. For a doctor to identify the extent of your foraminal stenosis, he/she would conduct the following tests: 

  • Physical Examination: A doctor will check your movement, muscle strength, reflexes, and the severity of pain and numbness. 
  • X-Ray: They help understand the alignment of spinal bones and the narrowing of the spaces between them. 
  • MRI Scan: This scan detects damage in soft tissues i.e., ligament & discs. 
  • CT Scan: This scan helps identify extra bone growth over an existing bone (bone spurs).
  • Electromyography: This is a nerve-conducting test to understand if the nerves in the spinal gaps are functioning properly. It also helps your doctor understand if this is caused due to some sort of pressure on the spinal nerves or another existing condition that needs to be studied further.


Based on the above-listed test results, your healthcare provider will determine the severity of the narrowed gaps between your spinal bones. This can be understood as Grading: 

  • Grade 0: No Signs of foraminal stenosis
  • Grade I: Mild stenosis. No damage to the spinal nerves
  • Grade II: Moderate stenosis. No damage to the spinal nerves.
  • Grade III: Severe foraminal spinal stenosis. Damage to the spinal nerves. Spinal nerves are pinched due to tightened gaps between the spinal bones.

How Is Foraminal Stenosis Treated?

The treatment for foraminal stenosis depends on the severity of its symptoms. Here’s how a doctor will initiate a treatment plan for spinal stenosis. 

1. Medications:

Your Orthopedic doctor will prescribe the following the relieve pain and ease symptoms with medication. These medications include: 

  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs: These medications may help relieve mild to moderate pain associated with foraminal stenosis.
  • Antidepressants: Some antidepressant medications, such as amitriptyline or duloxetine, can be used to help manage chronic pain 
  • Anti-Seizure Drugs: Medications used to treat seizures, such as gabapentin or pregabalin, can also be used to treat nerve pain associated with foraminal stenosis.

2. Physical Therapy:

Physical therapy is a group of exercises that help relieve pain and manage spinal stenosis on a daily basis. Here are some of the benefits of physical therapy for foraminal stenosis: 

  • Builds spinal flexibility and stability
  • Strengthens spine
  • Improves body posture and balance
  • Relieves pain

3. Steroid Shots: 

In order to reduce swelling, pain, and inflammation in the affected nerves, your doctor may recommend a steroid shot. During the procedure, a healthcare provider will use a small needle to inject the medication into the epidural space near the affected nerve root. The epidural space is the area that surrounds the spinal cord and nerve roots. The medication then spreads to the surrounding tissues, providing relief from pain and inflammation.

4. Surgery: 

In severe cases where symptoms are not responding to conservative treatment, surgery may be necessary. The goal of surgery is to remove the bone or tissue that is compressing the nerve root, allowing it to heal and reducing pain and other symptoms. The types of surgeries include:

  • Laminectomy: It involves the removal of the lamina, a portion of the vertebrae to ease the pressure on the veins and relieve the symptoms. 
  • Laminotomy: This surgery refers to a partial or complete removal of the spine laminae (tiny weak bones found on opposite sides of the spinal canal). This will ease the pressure on the spinal nerves.
  • Laminoplasty: This surgery is done for people with cervical stenosis (affected bones in the neck/upper region of the spine). This procedure makes more space in the spinal canal for the spinal nerves to pass freely without being compressed. The gaps between the spinal bones are held with metal hardware. This procedure relieves pain and symptoms of foraminal stenosis.

Why Choose Medfin?

Surgery can be a daunting aspect, and feeling anxious is absolutely normal. The amount of information you get from the internet may confuse you. This is where Medfin can help! Our team of Orthopedic Surgeons has 15+ years of surgical expertise in treating and has foraminal  (spinal) stenosis for over a decade. Advanced surgeries that are painless and scarless are aimed to boost recovery. Think Surgery! Think Medfin!

Frequently Asked Questions

Medfin offers the latest surgical procedures to ensure that you recover as fast as possible in the least painful way possible.

It is a common condition and it is highly treatable. It can be treated without any form of medical treatment.

The treatment for Foraminal Stenosis involves exercise, Injections and surgery. The surgical options include Interspinous distraction device and foraminotomy. Consult your doctor to know whether you need surgery.

The treatment options for Foraminal Stenosis depends on the condition and includes exercise, injections and surgery. Kindly consult your doctor to know which treatment suits your condition best.

Foraminal stenosis is not a disability, it is a serious medical condition which if left untreated, may turn out to be fatal.

View All

The power of Medfin in Patient’s words


Got to know about them from my friend. They got an appointment for only 299. Once the doctor confirmed that I needed the surgery they got me a fixed cost which included ALL the costs. No extra amounts were charged. Thank you Medfin

Suresh Menon
Recommended our service

After my consultation with the doctor, MEDFIN representative got me a fixed package cost that included my mothers initial tests, surgery cost. They also gave me stockings free for Rs. 3000 post the surgery. They kept up their promise they made

Radhika Iyer
Recommended our service

Thank you Medfin. They ensured the whole process from selecting a very experienced doctor to offering the latest procedure at a very reasonable price. They also arranged a follow up post my surgery with the doctor to ensure my recovery was on track. Thank you for being there throughout

Deepa Shree
Recommended our service

Why choose Medfin

dots why_medfin

Booking completed

05:30 PM, Wed
  • 01

    Latest procedures

    Get access to modern surgical techniques that ensure quicker recovery and better outcomes

  • 02

    Expert doctors

    Handpicked by Medfin, our expert doctors are trained in the latest, minimally invasive procedures

  • 03

    Savings upto 50%

    Medfin helps you save upto 50% on your surgery expenses

  • 04

    Advanced technology

    Get access to modern advanced technology


Think Surgery, Think Medfin.

Medfin has taken the latest medical technologies to ensure consistent quality of advanced surgical care in 45+ cities of India including:

Request a call back

Know more about latest day-care surgeries from a Medfin Expert

Book an appointment