A surgical procedure that aims to alleviate pressure being placed on spinal nerves in the foramen—an opening in the vertebral bones—cervical foraminotomy is minimally invasive and is effective at widening the foramen and allowing impacted nerves to move naturally out of the opening.
Cervical foraminotomy is typically reserved for patients who have a herniated disc or bone spur pushing on a nerve root and have moderate to severe pain the neck and shoulder as well as numbness or tingling in the arms and hands as a result. Additionally, a physician will recommend the procedure only after more standard and traditional treatments—medications, physical therapies etc.—have proven ineffective in relieving pain.
Following the administration of general anesthesia to the patient, a surgeon will make an incision down the center of the back of the neck to gain access to the top of the spine. Removal of the bone from the arch of the spine follows, giving a clear route to the impacted nerve or nerves as well as the damaged disc. The herniated disc is then removed, as is any damaged tissue, ligaments or bone spurs that may be present, all of which helps lessen the compression on the nerve root.
Post-procedure, most patients are able to be mobile within two hours, but are advised to limit neck movements—this may be assisted with the proscribing of a neck collar. Within four weeks patients are able to resume a gentle range of motion and movement, although it will take up to three months for the full resumption of normal daily activities.