Foraminal Encroachment vs. Foraminal Stenosis
By: Dr. Nicholas LaHood, D.C.
Foraminal encroachment is a term used to describe degeneration of the spinal column which has caused an obstruction of the foramina. The foramina are open spaces on either sides of the vertebra where the spinal nerves pass on their way to other parts of the body.
Neural foraminal stenosis refers to compression of a spinal nerve as it leaves the spinal canal through the foramen. Both of these conditions can occur when
the space between the spinal vertebras becomes reduced due to spinal degeneration.
A degenerative joint does not move as well as a non- degenerative healthy joint. This is due to calcium and bone spurs developing around the front and back of the joint which leads to physiological stress and restricted movement or stiffness. If this bone spurring occurs on the back of the joint, it reduces the space causing stenosis and impingement of the spinal cord and spinal nerve root. This is normally an extremely painful debilitating condition.
This degenerative condition will lead to changes of the shape of the foramina. The compressed foramina result in shortening of the spinal column, which causes the ligaments to buckle inward and compress the nerve roots more producing symptoms like pain, numbness, tingling and muscle weakness.
In most cases foraminal encroachment can be managed by a combination of conservative treatments methods.
These methods include rest, exercise, stretching, and chiropractic care. If the condition is advanced and has been developing for many years without treatment it can turn into foraminal stenosis. Spinal decompression therapy combined with deep tissue laser therapy is a gentle conservative treatment that will improve the spacing between the joints and release the nerve impingement.
Surgery becomes an option only when all conservative treatments fail to provide relief and the patient is experiencing uncontrollable pain even with high doses of medication and or organ failure is occurring due to nerve damage.
If you or someone you know is suffering with neck or back pain. Call Dr. Nicholas LaHood, D.C. 858-987-8282 to schedule a consultation and exam.
Specializing in treating Lower Back and Neck Pain