Foraminal Stenosis

Foraminal stenosis—often informally referred to as foraminal narrowing—is a condition that arises when the spaces between the vertebrae shrink. Under normal conditions, these spaces are large enough to become canals through which nerve roots can easily pass.
Foraminotomy is surgery that widens the opening in your back where nerve roots leave your spinal canal.

About the Surgery

Foraminal stenosis vary depending on which part of your spine is affected.
Cervical stenosis develops when the foramen of your neck narrow. Pinched nerves in your neck can cause a sharp or burning pain that starts in the neck and travels down your shoulder and arm. Your arm and hand may feel weak and numb with “pins and needles.”
Thoracic stenosis develops when the foramen in the upper portion of your back narrow. Pinched nerve roots in this part of your back can cause pain and numbness that wrap around to the front of your body.
Lumbar stenosis develops when the foramen of your low back narrow. The lower back is the section of your spine most likely to be affected by foraminal stenosis. This can be felt as pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness in the buttocks, legs, and sometimes the foot.

Symptoms of pinched nerves due to foraminal stenosis vary depending on which part of your spine is affected.

  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness
  • Tingling or the feeling of pins and needles and pain that radiates along the path of the nerve.

  • A full physical examination will be conducted by the doctor to see if the patient is in good health to undertake the surgery. 
  • The patient’s medical history is thoroughly studied so as to avoid any complications from arising during or after the surgery.
  • Medications such as blood thinners, are advised to be stopped, a week before the surgery is due to take place.
  • The patient is to fast for a minimum of 8 hours before the surgery.


  • The type of surgery will depend on the location of the stenosis and what’s causing it.  
  • If a herniated disk is pinching your nerve root, then surgery to remove the bulging disk may be the solution.
  • This procedure involves implanting a device in the space between the vertebrae to widen the gap and relieve pressure on the nerves.The procedure may include: laminotomy or laminectomy, which is removal of the bone spurs, scars, or ligament causing the narrowing.
  • Foraminotomy: A surgeon removes the bone that is causing the compression to give the nerves more room

  •  Physical therapy and activity modifications.
  • Guided activities
  • Balanced meal
  • Weight Management

  • Nerve damage.?- Blood clots.
  • Spinal fluid leak.
  • Bleeding.
  • Infection.
  • Worsening of the chronic back pain.
  • Risks associated with anesthesia.

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Dr Raghav Sunil

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MBBS, MS - Orthopaedics

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Dr Kiran Chouka
Dr Kiran Chouka

Orthopaedic Surgeon

MBBS, MS (Orthopaedics)

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FAQs and Related Articles

The foraminal narrowing is considered a problem when the restricted spaces lead to compression of nerves. This might result in symptoms like numbness, weakness, tingling or pain. It is a serious condition since it may lead to paralysis and death.
If it is untreated it might lead to significant and permanent nerve damage. This is a serious problem because it might lead to paralysis and death.
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.
There are multiple options for Foraminal stenosis and they include Interspinous distraction device and foraminotomy.
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.
It is a common condition and it is highly treatable. It can be treated without any form of medical treatment.
Foraminal stenosis is not a disability, it is a serious medical condition which if left untreated, may turn out to be fatal.

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