A foraminotomy is done to open the foraminal space to allow more room for the nerve. The foraminal space can be blocked by bone spur formation (osteophytes), disc material (herniation), or enlarged facet joints (facet hypertrophy). When there is compression of the nerve in the foraminal space the patient will present with leg pain. There can be numbness or tingling in the leg and in severe cases there can be weakness.
A small incision is made off the midline of the back and retractors are placed to move the soft tissue and muscles out of the way. Once the area is exposed a piece of the bone or disc material is removed to open the foraminal space and take the pressure off the nerve root. Once room for the nerve has been made then the muscle and soft tissue is sewn back together.
The patient is able to go home later that day. Once home the patient may ambulate as tolerated. Restrictions include not sitting for longer than 20-30 minutes, no lifting, pushing, or pulling more than 10lbs, and no repetitive bending. The patient will follow up in the office in 2 weeks’ time to have the staples removed. Depending on the patient’s job they can return to work in 2-8 weeks’ time