Foraminal stenosis is a type of stenosis of the spine that can occur in any region of the spine. It occurs when the foramen narrows and squeezes the nerves that are exiting the spine. Like lumbar and cervical stenosis, foraminal stenosis is often caused by degenerative spinal issues. Foraminal stenosis can be quite painful, commonly producing symptoms of radicular pain that can spread throughout the body.
Treatment for foraminal stenosis may include conservative methods like physical therapy and corticosteroid shots, but a surgical procedure known as a foraminotomy can be performed when the conservative methods are ineffective.
The world-renowned spine experts at the Spinal Stenosis Center of Excellence are skilled and highly experienced with the foraminotomy procedure, making them the top option for foraminal stenosis surgery in Los Angeles.
What is Foraminal Stenosis?
At every level of the spine there is a small opening that the spinal nerves exit through. This opening is known as the foramen, or foraminal canal. The foramen allows spinal nerves to branch out and travel to other parts of the body, like the arms and legs. Typically, there is plenty of room for these nerves in the foramen and they travel through unimpeded.
However, degeneration from aging and conditions like arthritis or herniated discs can alter the size of the foramen and disturb these nerves. This condition is known as foraminal stenosis. When the foramen is narrowed and the nerves are pinched, undesirable symptoms are likely.
What Causes Foraminal Stenosis?
Foraminal stenosis is often the result of the degenerative conditions that come with aging. Like other types of spinal stenosis, foraminal stenosis is most common in older patients. Other reasons why the foramen might become clogged or constricted include:
- Degenerative or herniated discs
- Rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis in the spine
- Tumors or other growths
- Genetic predisposition
What are the Symptoms of Foraminal Stenosis?
The symptoms of foraminal stenosis range in degree of severity. Symptoms may be dull and only include numbness or strange sensations in certain parts of the body, or they can be debilitating and include intense radiating pain. A radiating type of pain known as radicular pain is often associated with the nerve pinching of foraminal stenosis. This pain can radiate into other parts of the body along the path of the constricted nerves.
The radiating pain produced from foraminal stenosis is usually deep and steady, and may be reproducible with certain activities depending on the specific pinched nerve. These painful symptoms may also be accompanied by impairment of motor skills and muscle weakness. When foraminal stenosis symptoms are pronounced, they can interfere with normal, everyday activities and significantly affect quality of life.
How is Foraminal Stenosis Treated?
The treatment plan for foraminal stenosis will depend largely upon the type and severity of the symptoms. If the symptoms can be managed with conservative treatment, then surgery is not always required. Conservative options include:
- Injections, such as corticosteroid
- Pain medications
- Physical therapy
- Activity modification
- Braces or other equipment
If these conservative methods are incapable of alleviating the symptoms of foraminal stenosis, or if the symptoms are too severe, a foraminotomy may be necessary. At Spinal Stenosis Center of Excellence, foraminotomy is performed as a minimally invasive procedure using tiny incisions and a small arthroscope camera to access the area.
The arthroscope provides surgeons with a comprehensive visualization of the foramen and allows them to effectively remove the impingement that is responsible for the compression.
Contact a Foraminal Stenosis Expert in Los Angeles
The symptoms of foraminal stenosis can be difficult to live with. Since stenosis can worsen over time, early detection and treatment are very important. If you have been told you have foraminal stenosis or are experiencing similar symptoms, contact the premier experts at Spinal Stenosis Center of Excellence today. The surgeons at the Center are known for providing the top spinal care in Los Angeles. If you would like to schedule a consultation with an expert, call today at 888.538.0565 or use our contact form.