Foraminal Stenosis

The foramen in the spine is a small opening in between vertebrae where the spinal nerves leave the central spinal canal and move out into your arms or legs. 

The word stenosis means narrowed 

Foraminal stenosis refers to a narrowed opening in the spine where the spinal nerves are being pinched.   Foraminal stenosis or pinching of the spinal nerves can result in radiculopathy. Radiculopathy is radiating nerve pain.  Foraminal stenosis is a narrowing of the opening in the sides of the vertebrae where the individual spinal nerves exit the spinal canal and go out into the arms and legs.  Spinal stenosis refers to narrowing of the central spinal canal where all the nerves and spinal cord run through.  Both conditions can be caused by bulging/herniated discs, and bone spurs from degenerative discs and facet arthritis.

Symptoms include

numbness and tingling in the affected area with radiation into the arms and legs. If the stenosis is in the lower back, symptoms will be felt in the lower extremities. Cervical stenosis, or stenosis in the neck, will affect the arms, shoulders, and hands. As foraminal stenosis progresses, the symptoms will worsen and could eventually lead to muscular weakness and loss of sensation.  Beneficial treatments include anti-inflammatories or nerve pain medications such as gabapentin/Neurontin, Lyrica or Cymbalta, using back bracing, physical therapy and exercise.  Our pain management specialists can perform injection of very small amount of local anesthetic or steroid around the nerve irritation.  This is called a selective nerve root block.  If these treatments fail, there are several minimally invasive surgical options available.