Pain, stiffness, numbness or weakness in your neck, back or extremities can be signs of a pinched (compressed) nerve in your spine. A foraminotomy (for-am-in-OT-omy) might be helpful in relieving these symptoms.

This minimally invasive procedure lessens pressure on spinal nerve roots by opening up foramen, the passageway where a nerve exits the spinal canal between vertebrae.

Disorders that can cause nerve root compression include:

  • Bulging or herniated disc
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Osteophytes (bone spurs)
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Spondylosis (spinal osteoarthritis)

A foraminotomy involves carefully removing sections of tissue or bone that are pressing on the foraminal nerve. Once the pressure is relieved, the pain subsides.

Foraminotomy may be used in conjunction with other procedures such as a laminotomy or laminectomy.

The lamina is a small, bony plate that surrounds the spinal canal. Removing all or part of it makes it easier to access the foraminal nerve.

Your surgeon will use an MRI to pinpoint the nerve root that is being compressed. A small incision, no larger than a Band-Aid, is made at the site. Tubular retractors are used to hold tissue and muscle away from the spine during the procedure, as opposed to the cutting needed for traditional open back surgery.

The minimally invasive techniques used at Physician Partners of America mean less pain and recovery time after surgery.

Minimally invasive surgical procedures like foraminotomy are usually a last resort treatment for these pain conditions. You and your surgeon will decide together whether you are a candidate for this type of treatment.

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