Foraminal Stenosis (Narrowing)

Foraminal stenosis is a condition caused when the foramen, an opening in the spinal canal, is constricted and compressed against the spinal cord and/or spinal nerves. This is sometimes known as foraminal narrowing. The foramen is the opening between the spinal vertebrae and spinal nerve exits. Foraminal stenosis is similar to spinal stenosis, in which narrowing of an opening affects the spinal canal and/or spinal nerves. Foraminal stenosis may affect any area of the spine, develop over a period of time, and may mimic other types of spinal conditions.

Foraminal stenosis is commonly treated at Orlando Orthopaedic Center using both surgical and non-surgical methods as required by our board certified spine surgeons.

A majority of patients treated at Orlando Orthopaedic Center report an improvement in their condition.

What Are Common Foraminal Stenosis Symptoms?

Aging and wear and tear may cause foraminal stenosis among patients over the age of 55. It may also affect younger patients, as low as teenagers, relating to birth defects. Symptoms experienced among patients vary depending on the area of the spine affected. Common symptoms include:

  • Dull, sharp, or radiating pain
  • Weakness or numbness in the extremities
  • Sensations of burning or pins and needles
  • Difficulty walking or standing straight

What Are Options for Foraminal Stenosis Treatment?

Patients diagnosed with foraminal stenosis may initially be prescribed rest, physical therapy, massages, pain and anti-inflammatory medications. If that doesn’t work, steroids and local anesthetics can be injected around the site of the problem. These conservative methods of treatment are usually recommended before surgery is discussed.

What Happens During Foraminal Stenosis Surgery?

Foraminal Stenosis Spine Diagram - Orlando Orthpaedic CenterThe spine surgeon will work to explore all options and identify the most effective and least invasive method possible while ensuring optimum level of recovery. Surgical procedures that can be performed to treat foraminal stenosis include:


A foraminotomy is used to remove the disc fragments, overgrown ligaments and bone spurs from the neural foramen. This increases the space around the neural foramen and relieves the compression of the spinal nerves.


A laminotomy is a procedure where the lamina, the flattened or arched part of the vertebral arch, is removed in smaller parts on one or both sides of the spine creating small holes between the laminae.

Who is a Candidate for Foraminal Stenosis Surgery?

Surgery should be considered for individuals who have failed conservative treatment with medications and injections, or those with symptoms that are so severe that they are starting to lose significant function and are at risk for permanent nerve damage.

All risks and benefits of spine surgery should be considered before making a decision. The spine surgeon will discuss all available options and treatments.

What Are Results of Foraminal Stenosis Surgery?

Surgery is successful in relieving back pain in a majority of patients. A majority of patients with acute or severe back pain can benefit more from a foraminotomy or laminotomy.