The small openings between the bones of the spine are called the foramen. They serve as a passageway for the nerves that run from the spinal cord to the rest of the body. When these openings become narrowed or tightened the condition is referred to as foraminal stenosis. Most patients with foraminal stenosis can find relief from symptoms with the help of a pain management clinic.
What Causes Foraminal Stenosis?
The adult spine has 26 bones which consistent of 24 vertebrae as well as the sacrum on coccyx. Each vertebrae have a large central opening to hold and protect the spinal cord. The nerves that branch out from the spinal cord and travel to the legs, arms, and other areas are protected by the foramen. Injury, age, poor posture, arthritis, and other musculoskeletal conditions cause the foramen to become narrowed. When this happens, the sensitive nerves inside the foramen become pinched and crowded. In addition, bony spurs can develop inside the foramen and press against the nerves.
People who are more at risk for developing foraminal stenosis include those who have other musculoskeletal problems such as:
- Herniated disk
- Bone spurs
- Paget’s disease
- Dwarfism and other genetic disorders
Injury, especially in younger people, can lead to foraminal stenosis later in life.
Symptoms of Foraminal Stenosis
Symptoms of foraminal stenosis can range from mild discomfort to severe pain. The most common symptoms include:
- Burning sensations
- Limb weakness
- Radiating pain into the arms or legs
- Tingling or “pins and needles” sensation in the arms or legs
Not everyone with foraminal stenosis experiences symptoms, and in some cases, the symptoms come and go without explanation.
Can a Pain Management Clinic Help?
The most effective treatments for this condition depend on how far it has progressed and how bad your symptoms are. In some cases, rest and over-the-counter pain medications are enough to ease the discomfort.
The expertise found at a pain management clinic is especially helpful for patients with severe or chronic pain. A pain specialist has the training and technology to accurately target the source of pain and establish a comprehensive management plan. Under the care of a specialist, pain management could include:
- Physical therapy
- Prescription pain medication
- Epidural steroid injections
- Facet injections
- Peripheral nerve stimulation
- Spinal cord stimulator
- Radiofrequency ablation
- DRG therapy
- Superion treatments
Surgery is considered the last option if other non-invasive treatment options don’t alleviate pain. The exact type of surgery depends on the location of the foraminal stenosis and its cause. For example, if a herniated disk is causing pressure on the foramen, surgery to remove the disk may be appropriate.
What is the Outlook?
Most people with foraminal stenosis get relief from non-invasive treatment such as rest, lifestyle changes, and the treatments offered by a pain management clinic. It’s important to note that even when symptoms have been absent for many weeks or years, they can return. That’s why continuing any recommended course of treatment is crucial to long-term relief.
For more information about the causes of foraminal stenosis and non-invasive treatment options that are available, contact the pain specialists at St. Louis.