What You Need To Know About Foraminal Stenosis

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Foraminal stenosis is the narrowing of the foramen, openings within a spine. Foramen allows passage of nerve roots in and out of the spinal cords. As the spine degenerates, these openings tend to contract. They end up affecting spine tissues such as the intervertebral discs and vertebrae among others.  Foraminal stenosis is experienced when these tiny openings get encroached. This normally happens when the spinal column starts to wear out.

There are a number of conditions that contribute to this situation. They include a bulging disc, swelling of the soft tissues, herniated disc, arthritic changes, and bony growth. All these tend to compress the nerves. Symptoms associated with these issues include pain on the nerves that are compressed, muscle weakness, localized pain, and numbness. Ideally, foraminal stenosis mainly happens alongside deteriorating disease of the human spine. It could also be a basic problem in some cases.

Despite the somewhat complex situation presented by the Foraminal Stenosis, it can be managed using traditional remedies designed to mitigate the pressure on the back of the patient. Easing the pressure allows the body to heal by itself. Dr. Tony MorkLinks to an external site. says that the most common treatment options include hot and cold compresses, physical therapy, corticosteroid injections, pain medication and the use of braces. However, surgical treatment should be applied in a case where all these options don’t work.


Foraminal Stenosis Types

Foramen openings are found on both sides of the spine vertebrae. When both the foramina, it leads to what is known as bilateral narrowing. A unilateral narrowing, on the other hand, happens when only one side is affected. Sometimes, the narrowing may happen after the nerve roots have exited from an opening. This leads to far-lateral stenosis. This condition is normally caused by an injury or a degeneration of the spine.

When the restricted openings compress nerves leading to pain, numbness or weakness, it becomes a problem to the affected.  The most affected spine sections are the cervical and lumbar areas. However, it could take place in any region of the spine. The thoracic area that provides stability protects the spine in that location from degeneration. The most affected areas are at the lower back and neck that goes through constant stress due to movement needed in supporting body weight. Looking at these different scenarios, here are common types of foraminal stenosis:

Lumbar Foraminal Narrowing. This type occurs in the lumbar area affecting the lower extremities, the lower back and the buttocks. The narrowing around this region is as a result of spine degenerationLinks to an external site.. It leads to symptoms such as pain at the lower back. Many people may never realize they have lumbar foraminal narrowing especially when constriction is not at the point where nerves causing systems are not affected. Treatment can be done through non-surgical means and other pain relief remedies.

Thoracic Foraminal narrowing. Happening in the thoracic region, the thoracic foraminal stenosis affects the rib cage, shoulders and internal organs. It is different from thoracic spinal stenosis because this situation has a vertebral foramen narrowing.  It is common with the ageing population resulting from congenital issues or degeneration, which is the main cause.

Patients will experience increased pain with prolonged standing. Common treatment options include anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, and cortisone injections.

Cervical Foraminal Narrowing.  This type occurs around the cervical region affecting the head, shoulders and the upper part of the back. The pain grows steadily with time. The affected usually encounter occasional discomfort normally linked with specific activities such as sitting for a long time behind a desk. Improper diagnosis may mistake the condition with a muscle strain. 

Symptoms associated with this type of foraminal stenosisLinks to an external site. include pain in the neck, arms, upper back, hands, shoulders and fingers. Patients can be treated through exercise, pain medication and corticosteroid injections alongside other traditional remedies.

Final Thoughts

Foraminal stenosis is a problem of the spine resulting from a narrowing of openings giving a passage of nerve roots through the spinal cord. Common symptoms associated with this condition include numbness, weakness, and pain in affected areas. Diagnosis can be made by conducting bone scans, x-rays, thorough neurological assessments, computerized tomography (CT) scans and several other procedures. This condition can be managed upon early detection hence the need to consult a doctor if the mentioned symptoms are experienced.

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