What Is Bilateral Neural Foraminal Encroachment?

Bilateral neural foraminal encroachment is contracting of the foramina, which are the spaces on each side of the vertebrae, according to Laser Spine Institute. Nerves use the foramina to travel via the spinal cord to other parts of the body. Also referred to as bilateral neural foraminal stenosis, the condition may result in the compression or pinching of nerves as they end up with less space than normal.

According to Spine-Health, an enlarged joint, a crumpled disc space or a foraminal herniated disc may cause bilateral foraminal stenosis. Although narrowing of foraminal space usually occurs on one side, bilateral foraminal encroachment may affect the cervical spine or the lumbar spine.

When the foraminal space narrows to the extent of exerting pressure on nerves, a patient begins to experience bilateral neural foraminal encroachment symptoms such as pain, numbness and tingling, as Laser Spine Institutes explains. Other symptoms of bilateral neural foraminal stenosis manifest in the head, shoulders, legs and lower back. A patient with the condition will have both sides of his body affected and can end up losing the ability to execute day-to-day tasks.

Medscape states that the treatment of spinal stenosis is possible via surgical decompression. However, physical therapy and pharmacological therapy are utilized to achieve symptomatic relief before surgery is scheduled.