Back and Neck Injury/Neural fooraminal encroachment


My MRI shows severe left neural foraminal narrowing encroaching on the exiting left C7 nerve root.  What does that mean?

Hi Theresa,

The finding indicates narrowing of a space that the nerve goes through. The nerves exit the spinal cord in between 2 spinal bones. The bones form a hole (foramen) and the root of the nerve goes through this hole. When there are conditions like a herniated disc or degenerative arthritis, there can be loss of disc space, outgrowths of bone (bone spurs) that will cause the hole to become narrowed, allowing less room (encroachment) for the nerve to exit. There can also be direct pressure from a herniated disc. This can place pressure on the nerve.

If there is enough pressure on the nerve, you can experience radiculopathy (pinched nerve). At the level indicated, C6/7 - the nerve root between the sixth and seventh spinal bones; this can pinch the seventh nerve, you can experience neck pain that can radiate to the left side between the shoulder blades, and also pain, numbness or tingling in the middle finger. there may also be weakness when moving the arm or wrist.

So, neural (nerve) foraminal (space between the bones where nerve goes through) encroachment (something making the foramen or hole smaller).

Because this can be a finding in someone without any symptoms, this finding on the MRI would have to be correlated with your symptoms and other findings like orthopedic testing, reflexes and sensory findings to indicate a diagnosis of cervical radiculopathy, commonly called a pinched nerve. You can see more at

I hope this helps.

Kind Regards,

Dr. Steve  

Back and Neck Injury

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Dr. Steve Ornstein


I can answer questions regarding neck and back pain treatment and general musculoskeletal conditions. Acute, chronic and degenerative conditions using various methods; exercise, rehabilitation, traction. Pain relief methods and professional quality products via website at which can be used at home.


Graduated Chiropractic College in 1987, working in numerous clinics within two states using a variety of manual and physiological therapies. Involved in martial arts for 20 years.

Chiropractor Sherman College, Certified in Physiological Therapeutics from National Chiropractic College, Certified Peer Review Consultant from New York Chiropractic College, Studied with Dr. Cox using Flexion Distraction Technique, Studied with Dr. Leahy using Active Release Technique. Myofascial Release with Dr. Rockwell - Parker Chiropractic College. Certified in Modic Antibiotic Spinal Therapy.

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