When you experience back pain, you probably refer to it simply as back pain. However, it is important to understand that there could be more to it than just pain.

Foraminal narrowing is a spinal condition that occurs slowly and gradually. During this slow process, a person might experience pain, numbness, and tingling, in and around the impacted area. If you’re an active individual, then you might write these symptoms off. If you keep ignoring the symptoms or treating it with conventional methods, the pain will likely continue and worsen over time.

Foraminal narrowing occurs when the spinal foramen, a passageway for the nerve roots in the spinal column, becomes constricted and eventually compresses the nerve roots in the spine. Depending on where the nerve roots are compressed, a person might experience pain in the upper, middle or lower back.

One of the most common causes of this condition is disc degeneration, which is the degeneration of spinal discs from normal wear and tear over the years. However, there are also some more serious conditions that can cause foraminal narrowing. If you’re suffering from back pain and one of the following conditions, speak to your doctor about determining if the cause of the back pain is actually foraminal narrowing.


According to the American College of Rheumatology, osteoarthritis is one of the most common causes of foraminal narrowing. Osteoarthritis occurs with age and affects the hips, knees, feet and joints in the spine. As the joints wear down, your bones may begin to rub against one another, which can lead to osteoarthritis and bone spurs. When the bone spurs grow, it can narrow the spinal canal and impact the nerve roots. The constriction of the nerve roots due to bone spurs caused by osteoarthritis is what causes foraminal narrowing.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis affects the soft tissues of the joints, which can swell up. A person with rheumatoid arthritis might also suffer from spinal issues when arthritis begins to affect the sliding joints of the spine. Rheumatoid arthritis in the spine is much more likely to cause bone spurs, which may eventually lead to foraminal narrowing.

Chronic Meningitis

Meningitis is the inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Chronic meningitis is an infection that lasts more than four weeks. About 10 percent of those with meningitis are diagnosed with having chronic meningitis. This chronic infection can damage the spinal cord and cause the foramen to narrow, leading to pain and numbness in the back.

Tumors in the Spinal Column

Spinal cord tumors may be considered intramedullary or extramedullary, which are tumors that begin in the spinal cord itself. Tumors from other parts of the body can also spread into the vertebrae. Any type of spinal tumor can lead to pain and constrict nerve roots as the tumors compress on the spine.

If you’re suffering from any type of back pain and conventional treatment methods are not working, be sure to get a professional medical opinion. The back pain could be a sign of a more serious condition.

The highly skilled spine surgeons and specialists at The Bonati Spine Institute have been helping patients with spinal conditions for more than 30 years. They can review your medical history, MRIs and more to determine what is causing your back pain. The professionals at The Bonati Spine Institute can also provide you with treatment options so that you can get the quality of your life back.