Spinal Stenosis and Foraminal Stenosis, Although Similar They are Not the Same.

Back Pain:

To best understand foraminal stenosis we should look at spinal stenosis first to get a general understanding of what stenosis is. When translating from Greek language, stenosis is defined as a narrowing of a normally larger opening. The nerves exit the spinal column through this opening in the spinal canal or neuroforamen. Although this condition may be caused by a congenital condition and some people are genetically predisposed to this condition, it is more often brought on through our natural aging process.

When the spinal nerves become compressed or even trapped because the neuroforamen is partially or completely closed, we can associate this to spinal stenosis.

Symptoms of spinal stenosis include:
?Burning, tingling, and pins and needles sensation in the affected extremity which is most commonly a leg.

I once read an article that compared spinal stenosis to wearing a shoe half a size to small. With extra pressure applied to the feet from the shoe being too small, the feet will react to this pressure by swelling, which will make the shoe even tighter. When the swelling gets to a certain point, the pain caused by this can make walking difficult or even impossible. In comparison with spinal stenosis we can look at the feet being the nerves, the swelling being inflammation, and the pain caused being nerve compression. When bending forward or sitting some patients state that the pain from their spinal stenosis eases. This is because more space is created between the vertebrae when bending forward and this will sometimes temporarily relieve the nerve compression.

Although spinal stenosis may be able to affect all sections of your spine, it is found most commonly in the lumbar segment, thus being termed lumbar spinal stenosis. When walking or standing a person suffering from lumbar spinal stenosis will feel the pain in the buttocks, thighs, and calves. The less common form of cervical spinal stenosis affects the upper extremities along with the back. If the cervical spinal stenosis is severe enough it may affect the body from the neck down.

To confirm the symptoms that a patient is feeling are related to spinal stenosis a CT scan or a MRI will be preformed. When all forms of conventional treatment fail surgery may be preformed to increase amount of area required for the exiting nerves which helps to relieve the nerve compression.

Foraminal Stenosis: Although quite similar to spinal stenosis foraminal stenosis is singled out because it primarily will affect one or more vertebral foramen. When looking at a normal spine there is enough room for the nerve roots to slip through the foramen. The foramen can become clogged with debris as we age trapping and compressing nerves.

When the nerve root leaves the canal through the lateral foramen, a side hole in the canal, a bone spur that may have developed as a result of a degenerating disc may press on that nerve root. This is the most common form of spinal stenosis and is termed lateral spinal stenosis. When examining foraminal stenosis 72% of the cases will occur at the lowest lumbar level of the back. When the emerging nerve root in this area is trapped a major part of the sciatic nerve is compromised.

Although not all stenosis cases are critical, if ignored, loss of function may occur if nerves die. The ability to feel and move can be part of this function loss.

Common symptoms of foraminal stenosis:
?Sensations of burning, tingling, and pins and needles in the affected extremity (arms, legs)

If conventional treatment methods do not yield desirable results, surgical options may be explored.

Are you interested in laser spine surgery? Are you looking for more information about spinal stenosisand foraminal stenosis?

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