Foraminal Stenosis

by Dr. David Kramer

Foraminal stenosis is a narrowing of openings in the spine. To properly treat the condition, you must identify the cause of the compression. A second opinion will help.

 

Overview

Foraminal stenosis refers to narrowing of the small openings (foramen) on each side of the spinal column through which exiting nerves leave the spinal cord and travel to discrete regions in the upper and lower extremities.

vertebral segment anatomyThese small openings in the side of the spinal canal are subjected to degenerative processes such as a cyst coming from a facet joint, a bone spur formation or degenerative disc bulging.

Any of these can result in narrowing of the channels through which the emergent nerve roots pass. Loss of disc height between adjacent vertebrae narrows the vertebral foramen, resulting in direct compression of the exiting nerve root.

Any space-occupying lesion that can result in a narrowing of this foramen is known as foraminal stenosis.

Know the Cause to Find the Cure

Nerve compression, sometimes referred to as a “pinched nerve,” can result from such foraminal narrowing, and must be distinguished from nerve compression arising from other sources including a herniated disc.  Until the cause of the compression has been properly identified, it is not possible to prescribe the right treatment.   For this reason, obtaining a second opinion is critical.

Symptoms of Foraminal Stenosis

There are several differences between foraminal stenosis and a typical disc herniation. In this case, there is no herniated disc, but the inter-vertebrae openings have narrowed over time, causing compression of the nerves which can result in noticeable pain.

Commonly reported pain includes:

  • Slowly developing pain – does not present itself quickly
  • Differing locations of tingling or numbness and pain – depending on location of narrowed area, legs or neck and arms can be affected
  • Pain or tingling can occur in all extremities
  • Increased buttock and leg heaviness or achiness associated with standing and walking
  • Tends to affect older patients more frequently as the condition worsens over time and becomes more noticeable

Treatment Options for Foraminal Stenosis

Since the narrowing of the foramen is the culprit, steps must be taken to widen the channel back to a more optimal state.

Cleaning out this channel (essentially a roto-router procedure) is known as a foraminotomy, and the surgery for this technique is known as foraminal stenosis surgery. Sometimes this can be done in a minimally invasive manner and as an outpatient.

Until the cause of the compression has been properly identified, it is not possible to prescribe the right treatment.

For more information about foraminal stenosis surgery and how a second opinion can guide you in your surgical options, please request a second opinion.

By analyzing your situation we can help you to find the correct path forward with your treatment. Contact us today via the form seen on the side of the page, or call us toll free at:

855-377-4767

Dr. David Kramer

About Dr. David Kramer

Director of the Western Connecticut Health Network Spine Center since 2005, and with over 16 years in practice as a specialist in complex spinal surgery, Dr. Kramer conducts his spine practice at Connecticut Neck and Back Specialists in Danbury, Connecticut. He has been certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgeons since 1998. After earning his bachelors... Read More »