What Is Neural Foraminal Stenosis?

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Neural foraminal stenosis is the constriction or narrowing of the passageways that nerves pass through. Specifically, it refers to the narrowing of the opening between the vertebrae through which the central spinal cord passes. This leads to the compression of the spinal cord itself and can occur in both the neck and lower back. It is most common in the elderly.

Causes

  • Disc degeneration is the most common cause of neural foraminal stenosis. This causes a narrowing of the opening between vertebrae, and leads to pressure on the spinal cord itself, which results in neural foraminal stenosis. It can also occur as a result of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Symptoms

  • Symptoms of neural foraminal stenosis are tingling, pain, numbness and weakness in the affected area. Sometimes the pain is only present on one side of the back or neck. The pain is generally chronic and progressive, worsening as time goes on.

Diagnosis

  • Diagnosis of neural foraminal stenosis can be difficult. Generally, all that is required for diagnosis is an x-ray, possibly an MRI, and a complete medical history provided to your doctor.

Treatment

  • Exercises can be performed with a physical therapist to relieve pain, decrease symptoms, and prevent any debilitation from a lack of physical activity. The same is true of injections of corticosteroids. If the condition is especially debilitating and makes simple activities such as standing and walking difficult, surgery may be necessary.

Prognosis

  • Neural foraminal stenosis is a progressive condition, so if the underlying causes are left untreated, the symptoms will only worsen with time. If the underlying cause is effectively addressed and treated properly, there is no reason the condition would reoccur.

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