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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Common causes of foraminal stenosis include:
Apart from these, here are some less common causes of foraminal stenosis:
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:
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:
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.
Your Orthopedic doctor will prescribe the following the relieve pain and ease symptoms with medication. These medications include:
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:
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.
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:
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!
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