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Understanding the problem

The foramina are openings that exist along the spinal column that allow nerves to enter and exit the spinal column. These narrow passageways are extremely important because they help facilitate the free flow of information between the brain and the rest of the body by way of the central nervous system. Foraminal narrowing occurs due to a degenerative spine condition that causes one or more of these passages to become narrowed by bone or soft tissue, which can constrict the nerve infrastructure in the process. When one of the nerve roots becomes irritated, it can affect the nerve’s ability to do its job and the body will typically respond with painful symptoms — either at the source of the constriction or somewhere along the nerve’s path.

Understanding who suffers

Most cases of foraminal stenosis are related to gradual anatomical deterioration that is associated with the aging process. The vertebrae, intervertebral discs and other spinal components break down after years of wear and tear, especially within the cervical (neck) and lumbar (lower back) regions of the spine. Usually, this anatomical degeneration affects one side of a vertebral segment, producing unilateral foraminal narrowing. Sometimes, degeneration affects both sides of a vertebral segment, and this is known as bilateral foraminal stenosis.

A number of degenerative spine conditions can cause a narrowing of the foramina, including:

  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Herniated disc
  • Bulging disc
  • Collapsed disc
  • Bone spurs

As the spine weakens with age, and other factors like obesity and inactivity create unnecessary pressure on the spine, the discs and joints of the spine can wear down and cause misalignment. For example, when a facet joint deteriorates, the two surrounding vertebrae rub together with every pivot and movement of the spine. This can cause a bone spur — a small nub of bone — to grow next to the joint, which can narrow the available space in the foraminal canal.

Potential Signs and Symptoms

Foraminal narrowing of the spine occurs when the foraminal canal — the canal through which nerves exit the spine — narrows and becomes constricted, often by other spine material like a herniated disc or bone spur. This condition commonly occurs as a result of the natural deterioration and weakening of the spine with age, though sometimes this condition develops suddenly with injury or trauma.

While the foraminal narrowing does not cause any pain or symptoms on its own, it does create a high risk for nerve compression in the spine. This passageway is the funnel through which the nerve roots in the spinal canal travel to the rest of the body. Therefore, if this canal becomes constricted or narrows, there is a high risk that a nerve root will become trapped. A trapped or compressed nerve root can cause severe, chronic pain that occurs not only at the site of the nerve compression, but also through the length of the nerve pathway into the extremities.

The symptoms of foraminal narrowing include:

  • Pain
  • Cramping
  • Muscle weakness
  • Spasms
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
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AIMIS' skilled team of neurosurgeons, orthopaedic surgeons and ancillary professionals has one of the leading experiences in the world for minimally invasive spine surgery. Our full team are consulted with each case to find the most suitable experienced doctor for the patient’s exact issue, to ensure the maximum potential outcome of treatment

Getting More Information Before Moving Forward
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What AIMIS Can do:

AIMIS will provide a full review, diagnosis and potential surgical options for your condition, after receiving the relevant examinations and information from you. They will also provide an estimate for your surgical procedure before you decide. AIMIS’s mission is to the provision of “true” healthcare for those who require it. It provides world leading surgeons using state of the art procedures to optimize potential surgical outcomes, whilst taking care of all arrangements so as to allow concentration on recovery.

Affordability

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Further information on the problem:

Types of foraminal narrowing include bilateral stenosis, unilateral stenosis and far lateral stenosis. The definitions for each are as follows:

  • Bilateral foraminal narrowing — both foramina become narrow
  • Unilateral narrowing — only one foramen (left or right) at one level of the spine is affected
  • Far lateral stenosis — narrowing of the area surrounding a nerve root after it has exited the foramen

Foraminal narrowing can occur at any level of the spine, but it most commonly affects the pairs of foramina between the seven cervical vertebrae (upper) and the five lumbar vertebrae (lower).

The cervical spine and lumbar spine are subjected to stress-inducing motion, combined with the constant strain of supporting much of the body’s weight, which can increase the risk of developing a degenerative condition and foraminal stenosis. That doesn’t mean that the thoracic area of the spine (middle) is immune from damage, however. Although the stability of the thoracic spine limits the risk of foraminal stenosis, the condition can still develop, though it is rare.

The site of the foraminal narrowing often determines the location of the symptoms, as described below:

  • Cervical foraminal narrowing affects the head, shoulders, upper back, arms and hands.
  • Thoracic foraminal narrowing affects the ribcage, shoulders, arms and internal organs.
  • Lumbar foraminal narrowing affects the lower back, buttocks, legs and feet.
Further Information on Increased Risk Groups

One of the primary causes of foraminal narrowing (also called foraminal stenosis) is the natural aging process. While aging is inevitable, there are a few risk factors that can expedite the process of developing foraminal narrowing. These factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Sedentary lifestyles
  • Occupations that require constant sitting, standing, driving, bending, lifting and twisting
  • Regular participation in high-impact sports
Why AIMIS for this Surgery

AIMIS strives for excellence in delivering the best surgical outcomes, via the extensive expertise of its prestige surgeons, its technologies, its highly trained staff and superior facilities to provide an individualized and compassionate experience in a comfortable environment. All patients are treated with the individual care they deserve in an effort to provide the best chance of successful treatment.

Other Services Provided by AIMIS

In addition to its Innovative Healthcare, AIMIS provides seamless service along the way. From the start of your journey you'll know the best flights to take, where you'll be staying, what paperwork you will need. You will have a personal assistant assigned; from your pick up at the airport, to your accommodation, continuous assistance at your pre-consultation, through surgery and in your postsurgical care. Our Patients have said that they feel they have become "part of our family" and some even asked to stay a little longer! AIMIS is here to assist you in an all you requirements, allowing you to focus on your health and recovery.

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