When there is stenosis of the forominal this means that there has been constriction in the area that the nerve roots exit. Nerve roots leave the spinal column and the spinal cord area through the foramen. The foramen allows nerves to connect to different parts of the body. Stenosis of the forearm can happen when there is degeneration of the disc or joints in the spinal column. These discs are what keep all the vertebrae connected. The flexibility of the cartilage based joints allows you to bend and move your back freely without feeling too constrained and stiff.
Degeneration of these discs can be caused by a herniated or bulging disc, natural deterioration with age, trauma and injury. If the spinal column becomes too narrow, this causes the nerve roots to be disrupted by bone spurs, discs and other factors. A disrupted nerve root will cause significant pain because nerves are very sensitive. If the nerve in this area is irritated this can cause the pain to radiate to your pelvic area, lower back and legs. On most occasions, the foramen narrows at the lower back area, also known as the lumbar area.
Treatments for stenosis of the foraminal should include physical therapy. By doing different exercise and stretches, you can alleviate the pain of a narrowed foramen. Physical therapy is not invasive and can be done in a variety of areas with or without the help of the therapist. You can also use medications to lessen the pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are great for treating this problem. Advil and Motrin are easy to find brands that contain NSAIDs. There are also corticosteroid injections that can be applied to the area.
Although physical therapy should be the first option for treatment, many people have a case that is too severe and requires surgery. A foraminotomy is a surgical procedure that allows the nerves to pass through more easily. More specifically, this surgery enlarges the foramen and provides more room for nerve passage. This procedure can also be helpful to those that have herniated discs, which can cause the foramen to decrease in size.
To perform this surgery, a doctor may use two different methods, one being more invasive than the other. The less invasive method requires that the doctor make a tiny incision at the back section of your neck. Then tubes are inserted through a small opening in the vertebral column. The tubes are used to widen the area and subsequently allow the doctor to remove excess material that is causing the blockage or narrowing. This type of procedure does not damage any nerves or muscles. If you opt for a more invasive procedure, there is the possibility of cutting through muscle, which in the long run is more painful and difficult to recuperate from.
It is important that you discuss all the possible options with your physician. If you are suffering from a herniated disc, bone spurs, pinched nerve or sciatica, you may be qualified to have a foraminotomy surgery.