Foraminal stenosis refers to the narrowing or constriction of the openings between the spinal bones, known as foramen, and is a specific type of spinal stenosis. These foramen are responsible for transmitting nerves from the spinal cord to other parts of the body. When the foramen become constricted, it can compress the nerve roots passing through them, leading to a pinched nerve, which in turn can result in radiculopathy. This can cause pain, weakness, or numbness in the area served by the affected nerve.

Symptoms of foraminal stenosis may not always be present or can come and go. The likelihood of developing this condition and experiencing pinched nerves increases with age due to the effects of arthritis and the normal wear and tear of daily life on the spine. However, injury can also cause stenosis, especially in younger individuals.


Types of Foraminal Stenosis

The symptoms of pinched nerves resulting from foraminal stenosis vary depending on the location of the affected area in the spine.

When the foramen in the neck narrow, cervical stenosis develops. Pinched nerves in the neck can cause a burning or sharp pain that extends from the neck to the arm and shoulder. You may also experience weakness and numbness in the arm and hand, along with a sensation of pins and needles.

In the upper part of the back, thoracic stenosis can occur when the foramen narrow. This is the least common area to be affected by foraminal stenosis. Pinched nerve roots in this region can cause pain and numbness that wraps around to the front of the body.

In the lower back, lumbar stenosis is the most common type of foraminal stenosis. This occurs when the foramen in the low back narrow. Symptoms can include pain, tingling, numbness, and weakness in the buttock, leg, and sometimes the foot. This type of pain is often referred to as sciatica.