Foraminal Stenosis 101

“Foraminal stenosis” isn’t a term that most people know. However, many Americans are vulnerable to it.

Foraminal stenosis shows up the most often in people who smoke, are overweight, live a sedentary lifestyle, and fail to get the proper nutrition. Unfortunately, these terms could be used to describe a lot of Americans. That is why we are going to use today’s blog to discuss the basic causes, symptoms, and method of diagnosis for foraminal stenosis.

Foraminal stenosis is an issue that affects the foramens, which are the openings in the spine. The foramens allow nerves to branch out from the spinal cord into the rest of the body. The foramens can be negatively affected by many different conditions, including calcified ligaments, spinal arthritis, and beyond.  Because there are foramens on the entire length of the spine, stenosis can show up anywhere. However, it tends to show up in the lumbar region.


As you might remember from our blog about spinal stenosis, “stenosis” indicates something is getting narrower. When you get a bone spur, herniated disc, or any other condition that puts improper pressure on your spine, the nerves exiting through the foramens get squeezed or pinched. Inflammation is the result. Depending on how dramatically things are being compressed, you will experience a different magnitude of symptoms. Because spinal stenosis shows up most commonly in the lumbar region, the following are the most common symptoms:

  • Numbness and/or weakness in arms and legs
  • Sharp, dull, or radiating pain at the location of the stenosis
  • Feeling of pins and needles or burning
  • Trouble standing straight
  • Trouble walking

Because many back conditions share symptoms, it’s important to make an appointment with a specialist at the Spine Institute of North America. You want to be sure that you understand exactly what is going on. When you make an appointment, a specialist will do everything to properly diagnose you. Read on to learn what tests may be done.


The specialist’s mission is to discover just what is going on in your spine to create spinal stenosis.

  • The first step to any diagnosis is your medical history. The specialist should carefully analyze your past treatment, symptoms, and care. If a specialist fails to do this, find another one immediately.
  • A physical examination should come next. The specialist will evaluate how your spine moves, how limited its range is, how your balance is affected, and where your pain is located. Because the issue is in your spine, your arms and legs should also be examined for numbness and weakness.
  • From there, your specialist will probably recommend x-rays in order to rule out certain issues. If an x-ray isn’t enough to determine what is going on, you will need a CT scan or an MRI. The three-dimensional view that CT scans and MRIs provide are extremely helpful in accurately diagnosing issues.

After a diagnosis is reached, it will be time to talk about treatment options. We invite you to check out a general overview on our main foraminal stenosis page. You will need to talk with a specialist in person to determine the unique solution you need. Contact us for pain management and beyond in New Jersey today.

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