Any type of spinal narrowing can be problematic and potentially painful, especially if nearby nerve roots are compressed. If you have foraminal stenosis—which sometimes happens because of age-related changes or sudden (acute) trauma—nerves essentially become trapped in the foramen, which are gaps in vertebrae that allow nerves to pass through the spinal cord to the spinal canal. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to either prevent foraminal stenosis or treat the condition if you already have it.
Preventing Foraminal Stenosis
Not every instance of foraminal stenosis is preventable. The biggest culprit is the natural aging process, which simply can’t be avoided. However, there are ways you may be able to reduce your risk of developing this type of abnormal spinal narrowing. The most effective way to minimize narrowing of the spine’s foraminal canals is to be mindful of certain lifestyle habits by:
- Not smoking
- Keeping your weight within a normal range
- Watching your posture as you sit, stand, and sleep
- Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption
- Reducing or avoiding repetitive spinal movements as much as possible
The foods you eat can also affect your spine’s various structures. Lower your odds of developing symptoms related to foraminal stenosis by avoiding sugary beverages, processed meats and snacks, anything fried, and other foods that tend to trigger inflammation. Instead, opt for a balanced diet that gives you an assortment of beneficial nutrients. If you combine dietary adjustments with the other tips mentioned above, you can feel confident you’re doing what you can to minimize issues with foraminal stenosis.
Treating Foraminal Stenosis
Even if you’re diligent about caring for your spine, there’s still a chance you could have disruptive, painful symptoms related to foraminal stenosis. The approach to treatment that’s right for you depends on the location of the narrowing and the nature of your symptoms. However, there are both conservative (non-surgical) and surgical treatments that could boost your quality of life.
Lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, getting more exercise, and improving your posture, could ease your symptoms enough to make foraminal stenosis manageable. You may also benefit from the following non-surgical treatment/symptom management options:
- Over-the-counter/prescription medications
- Targeted physical therapy
- Epidural steroid injections
If non-surgical treatments aren’t providing sufficient relief, surgery may become an option. Many of the possible surgical remedies for this type of spinal narrowing involve the use of minimally invasive techniques, which can mean a shorter recovery time and fewer surgical risks. One such procedure is an endoscopic foraminotomy. Santa Monica patients who undergo this procedure experience the removal of any debris (e.g., bone spurs, scar tissue, or ligament overgrowth) that’s causing the narrowing.
Upper/lower back pain, difficulty with balance, numbness or tingling sensations extending to extremities, and pain and muscle weakness extending to the lower body (sciatica) are some of the common symptoms associated with foraminal stenosis. However, the only way to know for sure if you have this condition is to get an accurate diagnosis to rule out other spine-related issues that could produce similar symptoms.
When properly diagnosed, patients with foraminal stenosis can often receive relief with conservative methods of treatment. If you suspect you may have foraminal stenosis, see a Santa Monica spine surgeon as soon as possible. The spinal health experts at The Spine Institute lead the industry in diagnosing and treating every aspect of spine health. Give one of our friendly team members a call today at 310-828-7757 to schedule an appointment.