Each vertebrae have two foramina, one on each side. The photo below depicts the neural foramen, the neural foramen is a passage way where the nerve exits the spinal cord. In a case of Foraminal Spinal Stenosis the passage way becomes obstructed in a way that it affects the nerve which exits through the foramen. Typically a patient will feel pain on one side of the body, if pain exits on both sides this may result in bilateral foraminal stenosis.
Bilateral Foraminal Stenosis
Bilateral foraminal stenosis is a condition where both foramen on the same vertebrae are obstructed causing pain, numbness or weakness in the limbs.
Causes of Foraminal Stenosis
Like any form of spinal stenosis, age plays a big factor in the reason spinal stenosis exists. The older people become the more bones wear out and degenerate. Foraminal stenosis is sometimes caused by the growth of bone spurs (osteophytes). Bone spurs are abnormal growths on bones and can happen anywhere on skeletal bones. In addition to the aforementioned contributors to foraminal stenosis, here are a few more:
- Congenital defects (exists at birth)
- Herniated discs
- Bulging discs
- Repetitive activity
In the case of a herniated or bulging disc, when a disc herniates or bulges, it can push the outer wall of the disc into the foramina causing pressure on the nerve or pressing the nerve against the natural opening.
Spinal Stenosis Overview Animation
Foraminal Stenosis Treatment
When considering a foraminal stenosis treatment, doctors will analyze several factors to determine the best course of action. Whether the decision is made to perform a spinal stenosis surgery, such as a foraminotomy or a more conservative plan, such as foraminal stenosis exercises, or a selective nerve root block (SNRB) also known as selective transforaminal epidural injection, physicians typically look at the extent of the pain associated with the condition, the age of the patient and the physical condition of the patient.