Bilateral Foraminal Stenosis
What Is Bilateral Foraminal Stenosis?
Foraminal stenosis, or compression of the nerves of the spine caused by narrowing, usually affects a nerve root on one side of the body. However, in cases of bilateral foraminal stenosis, also known as bilateral foraminal narrowing, both foramina have become narrow and the nerve roots on both the right and left sides of the spine are compressed.
The foramina can become narrow at any level of the spine, but it is more commonly found in the seven cervical vertebrae that make up the neck or the five vertebrae that make up the lumbar spine. Foraminal narrowing is unusual in the thoracic vertebrae (mid back) due to its limited mobility. In addition, although the compression caused by narrowing on one side is more common, narrowing and compression on both sides can occur in the cervical or lumbar spine.
Causes of Bilateral Foraminal Stenosis
Bilateral foraminal stenosis is usually caused by a degenerative condition of the spine. When the bones of the spinal column wear down through normal wear and tear, they cause spinal pressure on the foraminal canals and limit the space in the spinal canal through which the nerve roots travel.
Causes of bilateral foraminal narrowing may include:
- Bulging disc
- Bone spurs
- Slipped disc
- Age-related disc degeneration
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Symptoms of Bilateral Foraminal Stenosis
As the foramina narrow, they start to put stress on the spinal nerves, causing symptoms at the level of nerve root compression. The symptoms may include:
- Pain that develops over the course of time (often years)
- Muscle weakness, tingling, and numbness
- Pins and needles sensation
- Burning pain in the extremities
- Headaches and brain fog (cervical)
Diagnosing Bilateral Foraminal Stenosis
If the pain lasts more than a week or two, patients should schedule an appointment with their doctor to find out what is causing their symptoms. Your doctor will review your medical history, ask questions to determine the severity of your symptoms, and perform a physical and neurological assessment of your condition. He/she may also require diagnostic studies such as x-rays, MRIs, or CT scans.
Treatment for Bilateral Foraminal Stenosis
If you have symptoms associated with narrowing of the foramina on both sides, your physician will discuss with you the treatment options available. Often patients can manage mild to moderate symptoms with conservative, non-surgical options.
Your physician may recommend a combination of two or more of the following conservative, non-surgical treatment methods to alleviate your symptoms:
- Physical therapy
- Pain medication
- Weight Loss
- Low-impact exercises and stretching
- Chiropractic care
- Corticosteroid injections
If your condition does not respond to conservative treatments or worsens to point where it impacts your everyday activities, surgery might be necessary.
The Bonati Spine Procedures relieve the symptoms of bilateral foraminal stenosis on an outpatient basis with a small incision and quick recovery.