Neuroforaminal Stenosis

A Closer Look at Neuroforaminal Stenosis

Neuroforaminal stenosis is a disorder that affects the spine. Technically speaking it is the narrowing of a hole in the spine through with nerves pass through. As the hole begins to narrow, the nerves become pinched and can cause all sorts of trouble and discomfort!   

Symptoms of Neuroforaminal Stenosis

The symptoms of neuroforaminal stenosis can differ from person to person because the location and type of nerves that are being pinched dictate which part of the body will be affected. For instance, if the cervical nerve is being pinched then the sufferer could actually experience symptoms that affect the shoulders and travel down the arms to the hands. The lower back, buttocks, and legs are areas that may also be affected. There are a few symptoms that all cases seem to share, which are pain, localized tingling or numbness, and general weakness. The pain that one feels is usually down one side of the body rather than both, and in advanced cases one’s legs or arms may experience tingling or numbness. Identifying these symptoms and the fact that they only appear to affect one side of the body is a good place to start when describing this condition to a doctor.

Known Causes

The most likely cause behind neuroforaminal stenosis is that as one grows older, the discs in the spine start to deteriorate which can cause the small holes throughout the spine to shrink. As the shrinking continues and the nerves become pinched, making pain signals crop up in other parts of the body such as the back, legs, or arms. An aging skeletal system is not the only cause behind this condition, however. Immediate trauma, such as a disc hernia, can cause holes to shrink or collapse altogether. The same can occur if the spine is fractured.

Getting a diagnosis may be a little more difficult that one might think, as this is not usually the first condition that a doctor suspects when a patient complains of back pain. Because the natural formation of this disorder usually develops over a long period of time, a doctor may suspect it if his long-time patient complains that the pain worsens or spreads to other areas of the body.

Available Treatment Methods

The most successful treatment method is a procedure called foraminotomy. This is a surgical procedure that basically decompresses the hole in the spine. This is a minimally invasive surgery and consists of the surgeon making an incision at the back of the neck. The skin and layers of muscle are pulled back to give the surgeon access to the underlying bone. The surgeon will be able to visually locate the compressed hole. The doctor may then enlarge the hole using tools as well as remove any scar tissue, bone, or cartilage which may have contributed to the development and progression of this condition.

It may be possible to relieve neuroforaminal stenosis using therapy targeted towards this condition as long as the patient’s case is not so severe that basic actions such as standing, walking, or simple arm movement causes pain. The type of exercises one should perform to relieve the symptoms and discomfort brought on by neuroforaminal stenosis depend on which nerve is compressed and the patient’s capabilities in regards to movement. One’s doctor should be able to refer them to a physical therapist who will be able to review their condition and piece together a specialized collection of exercises. Mild cases may only require physical therapy once every few weeks while others may require more frequent sessions such as twice each week, depending on the physical therapist’s recommendation.