Oct 13, 2021 | Treatments

Foraminal Stenosis Treatment at Biscup Spine: Transforaminal Microdecompression

foraminal stenosis treatment

Foraminal stenosis is a type of spinal stenosis that affects many adults. In fact, almost half of all adults middle-aged and older experience some type of spinal stenosis and pain caused by pinched nerves. But what is foraminal stenosis and what’s the most effective foraminal stenosis treatment? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about this condition as well as how Biscup Spine, located in Florida, can help you find relief.

What is Foraminal Stenosis?

Foraminal stenosis is a condition in which the openings between the bones in your spine begin to tighten or narrow. These openings are known as the foramen, hence the name foraminal stenosis. The foramen are what allow nerves from the spinal cord to reach your arms, legs, and other parts of your body. In a normal spine, the foramen have enough room for nerve roots to easily fit through them. However, a variety of issues can cause the foramen to close in, reducing the space in them for nerve roots, and pinching the nerves.

When a spinal nerve becomes pinched, it can lead to radiculopathy, which causes pain, numbness, and weakness in the part of the body that the nerve serves. For example, if the sciatic nerve becomes pinched, the patient would experience symptoms of sciatica.

It should be noted that some people with foraminal stenosis don’t experience symptoms and others experience symptoms that come and go rather than being constant.

Keep reading to learn more about the symptoms and causes of foraminal stenosis, as well as the best foraminal stenosis treatment. 

Symptoms

Symptoms of foraminal stenosis depend on which part of your spine is affected, but we’ll be focusing on symptoms caused by stenosis in the lumbar spine. The lumbar spine, or the lower back, is the section of the spine that is most likely to be affected by foraminal stenosis as well as a variety of other spine conditions. This is due to the fact that the lumbar spine takes on most of the stress and load placed on your spine in normal activities.

When the foramen of your lower back begin to narrow, this is known as lumbar stenosis. Lumbar stenosis symptoms include pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness in the buttock, leg, and foot. This is also known as sciatica. The pain caused by lumbar stenosis may also worsen with activities like bending, twisting, reaching, coughing, or sneezing. Effective foraminal stenosis treatment must treat the cause of these symptoms, rather than simply treating the symptoms themselves.

Causes

One of the most common causes of foraminal stenosis is aging. People are more likely to develop this condition as they get older due to the wear and tear of daily living. This wear and tear can lead to changes in the spine that may cause the foramen to narrow.

The following are more common causes of foraminal stenosis:

  • Injury
  • Herniated discs
  • Bone spurs
  • Enlargement of ligaments around the spine
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Cysts or tumors
  • Bone disease
  • Genetic conditions

Foraminal Stenosis Treatment

The following are the most common treatments of foraminal stenosis. The only issue with these treatments is that, excluding surgical treatments that treat the narrowing of the foramen, these treatments only address the symptoms of the narrowing. This is not an effective or lasting way to treat foraminal stenosis.

Activity Changes

Rest is commonly recommended for those experiencing pain, numbness, or weakness as a result of a pinched nerve. However, resting for too long can actually worsen foraminal stenosis symptoms. Patients may also be told to avoid movements that cause pain, but not to avoid movement altogether. Using hot and cold packs may be recommended in addition to this. Unfortunately, changing your activity level does not address the narrowing of the foramen.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a great way to stabilize your spine and improve your range of motion. It may also be able to open up space in the spine for your nerve roots to pass through. It’s well known that strengthening the muscles that support your spine reduces stress on the spine and prevents future damage. However, if this doesn’t provide lasting relief from foraminal stenosis pain, surgery may be recommended.

Medication

There are a variety of medications used for foraminal stenosis treatment, such as:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – NSAIDs include medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, which can reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
  • Steroids – oral corticosteroids, such as prednisone, may ease pain by reducing inflammation around the irritated nerve. Steroids may also be injected near the affected nerve to relieve inflammation and pain.
  • Narcotics – narcotic pain relievers may be recommended if other treatments haven’t worked and your pain is severe, but they are only recommended for short-term use.

Transforaminal Microdecompression

If conservative treatments fail to provide relief from foraminal stenosis pain, surgery will most likely be recommended. Here at Biscup Spine, Dr. Biscup offers a variety of surgical procedures to treat spinal stenosis and a common surgical treatment for foraminal stenosis is transforaminal microdecompression.

This is a safe, minimally invasive procedure used to treat severe cases of this painful condition. It requires only a 1-inch incision in conjunction with a microscope or endoscope so that Dr. Biscup can view the area that will be operated on. Fewer and smaller surgical incisions mean a reduced risk of complications and faster recovery time. 

During the procedure bone spurs, thickened ligament tissue, and herniated disc material that are pinching the spinal nerves are removed through an 18mm tube (roughly the size of a dime) that is inserted through the 1-inch incision. This procedure is performed as an alternative to “open” or traditional laminectomy.

There are many reasons why this minimally invasive procedure is the preferred choice to traditional procedures, such as:

  • Small incisions and minimal scar tissue formation
  • Less damage to the surrounding muscle and soft tissues
  • Less blood loss
  • Reduced need for pain medication
  • Quicker recovery and faster return to regular activities
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Decreased risk of postoperative infection

If you’re living with pain caused by foraminal stenosis and other treatments have failed to provide you with relief, it may be time to speak to a doctor who can truly help.

Get Foraminal Stenosis Treatment at South Florida’s Premier Spine Clinic

There is no shortage of options for lower back pain treatments, including here at Biscup Spine. In our office, we’ll help you determine which procedure is most effective for your unique condition.

Dr. Biscup is a pioneer in minimally invasive and traditional lumbar spine surgery. His specialization includes laser microsurgery and micro-decompression laminoplasty. In addition to this, he often provides a second opinion for patients considering surgery. He also sees many patients who have failed to get relief from prior spine surgery.

If you’re currently living with back pain and are failing to get relief from your current treatment or have all but given up on finding relief, please don’t hesitate to call us at 1-800-533-7313 or contact us online today. Our goal is to deliver the best outcome possible for the relief of your back pain and we pride ourselves on our proven ability to do so. We look forward to partnering with you on your successful journey to better health!

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