What is Foraminal Stenosis?

Thirty-three vertebrae make up the spine, and in between each one is a small opening called a foramen. The foreman allows nerves to pass from the spinal cord to other body parts. Sometimes, with age or injury, these openings can tighten or even close, causing a condition called foraminal stenosis.

Types of Foraminal Stenosis

The spinal cord acts as a neural superhighway in charge of sending and receiving neural signals from the brain, allowing the body to move and feel sensations. In addition to this “highway,” the foramen could be likened to on and off-ramps. If one of these openings narrows, neural traffic jams can occur, leading to pain, numbness, or weakening of various body parts. 

Neural foraminal stenosis is usually divided into three categories based on the location of foraminal narrowing along the spine.

Cervical Stenosis

The nerves that branch out from the cervical spine provide feeling to the upper body. Pinched nerves in the neck caused by foraminal narrowing can cause a wide range of sensations in the shoulders and arms that can include:

  • Tingling in the hands 
  • Weakness or heaviness of the arms
  • Sharp neck pain

Thoracic Stenosis

Thoracic Stenosis affects the mid-back region where the vertebrae attach to the ribs. While thoracic stenosis is the least common of the three types of spinal foraminal narrowing, it often has the most profound effect on the body. Symptoms may include:

  • Backaches
  • Difficulty with spinal rotation
  • Body Imbalance or sense of instability

Lumbar Stenosis

Lumbar stenosis is a common form of foraminal narrowing that often comes with age. It is estimated that over 90% of individuals will experience lumbar stenosis by the time they reach 60. Because the lumbar spine supports the weight of the torso and upper body, nerve compression is often quite extensive. It can affect both sides of the spinal nerve roots, resulting in a specific type of stenosis referred to as bilateral foraminal stenosis. Symptoms often include:

  • Sciatica
  • Weakness of the legs
  • Tingling sensation in the feet
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control

How is Foraminal Stenosis Treated?

In most cases, foraminal stenosis can be treated with a combination of physical and chiropractic therapy. A doctor may suggest a series of exercises as well as modifications to daily activities to lessen the compression of the spinal nerves.

In more severe cases of spinal stenosis, a minor surgery known as a foraminotomy may be the best option to alleviate pain and other symptoms associated with foraminal narrowing. This minimally invasive spinal procedure involves removing a small amount of bone and tissue surrounding the foramen, giving more space for a nerve.

Foraminal Stenosis Treatment in Irving, Texas

If you’re experiencing pain, discomfort, or seeming random sensations in different areas of your body, please don’t wait to seek out medical treatment. At Spine Health and Wellness, our team of doctors and chiropractic therapists specialize in identifying and treating foraminal stenosis and various other spinal conditions. Our comprehensive and conservative treatment options are designed to help you recover quickly and easily. Click here to request an appointment today!

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