Neural Foraminal Stenosis

A Condensed Overview of Neural Foraminal Stenosis

Neural foraminal stenosis occurs when the nerves that are located in your spinal column’s passages and ducts get compressed or pinched. Several unpleasant ailments can develop, but they may vary depending on the location of the compression. For information regarding neural foraminal stenosis, read this condensed guide for an overview on the subject, and speak to your doctor about your concerns.

What Causes This Problem?

This nerve compression is most commonly caused by degenerating spinal discs. It is not uncommon for discs and vertebrae to herniated or bulge as the person ages, and this will often result in the passages, or foramen, narrowing. As the narrowing gets worse, nerves will sometimes get pinched or compressed, resulting in the unpleasant side effects.

Rheumatoid arthritis is another possible cause of this condition, as is osteoarthritis, chronic meningitis, neurofibromas, and spinal tumors as well. Congenital causes are also common, and various birth defects may be responsible for increasingly narrow foramens.

Because this is a progressive disorder, it generally affects older people, except in cases where the sufferer was born with foramen issues.

Common Symptoms

People suffering from neural foraminal stenosis frequently exhibit several varying types of symptoms. Pain, ranging from mild discomfort to severe, is the number one reported symptom. Along with pain, tingling and numbness is also cited, as well as weakness in the extremities. These signs of the condition are akin to the pains and numbness that pregnant women frequently experience.

Symptoms may be stronger on one side of the body and almost nonexistent on the other, depending on the location of the compression and which nerves are affected. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important that you seek medical consultation soon. These symptoms may be a sign of another condition, or may increase in severity if left untreated.

How to Diagnose

Diagnosing neural foraminal stenosis is complicated for a few different reasons. If the stenosis is a result of degenerative discs, the problem may not be obvious until it is in a more advanced state. Diagnosis may also be difficult if the symptoms are only present on side of the body.

Additionally, unless the pain is continual, many people will ignore the occasional tingling and numbness, remaining unaware of their condition. Many people will also attribute the gradual increase in pain to aging.

Diagnosis may be reached by your physician conducting an extensive medical history on you as well as a thorough physical examination. X-rays will likely be done, as well as an MRI to see any disk movement or degeneration. Once a diagnosis has been made by your doctor, discussions regarding treatment can begin.


Traditional forms of treatment such as pain management and physical rehabilitation can be effective in providing short term relief from this condition. Doctors recommend, however, that in order to provide long term relief, the patient must undergo lifestyle changes. These changes may slow the degenerative process or help with herniated discs and pain resulting from these.

In some cases, permanent relief may require surgery. Be sure to discuss this option with your doctor, and explain your concerns. Ask about the likelihood of complete relief. It is important to note that although in the past surgeries were invasive and the rate for success was lower, that this is not the case anymore. Minimally invasive procedures are now available to patients and boast a very high success rate. Many patients choosing to undergo the cutting edge procedures are experiencing multiple benefits and some are completely symptom free.

Remember to speak with your doctor if you are experiencing frequent pain and numbness in your back and extremities.