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Spine and Back Health

Nerve damage?

06/29/2010

Question:

What does severe bilateral foraminal stenosis mean? I have bulging discs at the T12-L1, L1-2,L2-3,L3-4,L4-5 levels, and L5-S1 3mm. Also Grade 1 retrolisthesis and anterolisthesis at multiple levels.

I am a 66 year old caucasian female.

What bothers me the most now is severe pain traveling from my right groin down the front of my inner thigh, to my inner knee then crossing over below my knee to the right side of my lower leg.

I would like clarification as to what nerves (if any) are there and why it is progressing. Just a generalization please. I`m going for nerve tests with a Neurologist next week.

Thanks for any comments.

Answer:

Hello, thank you for your question. "Bilateral" means both sides (left and right). "Foraminal" means having to do with the "foramen", which is the small opening in the side of the spinal canal where each individual nerve root exits the spine. "Stenosis" means "narrowing". So, this means you have severe narrowing of the space around where the nerves exit the spine on both sides. It sounds like you have a very bad back. The symptom you're describing in your leg might (or might not) fit with some compression or irritation of your right L4 (fourth lumbar) nerve, but the nerve tests should confirm that. Keep that appointment with the Neurologist. Keep in mind, I'm only generalizing one possibility based on the symptoms you described in your leg. Also, keep in mind that "findings" on your MRI don't necessarily represent anything meaningful, and don't necessarily have anything to do with your pain. That is something only a specialist with experience treating spinal problems can interpret. Good luck.

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Response by:

David J Hart, MD David J Hart, MD
Associate Professor of Neurosurgery
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University