Re: Need help understanding MRI results
I'm not a doctor either but I know how frustrating it is to have a copy of the report but not understand it. I can't tell you "what's wrong" but I can help you to understand some of the terms.
Basically one of the major things that leads to the nerve pain many of us experience is caused by stenosis. This can occur in the central canal or in the foramen, which are openings the nerves pass through as they exit the spine. When the foramen get "clogged" up, the opening is smaller and there isn't enough room for the nerve...so it ends up getting squeezed or compressed.
Stenosis means "narrowing." it can be caused by a variety of different issues: a disc can bulge out of its space and press into the foramina; there can be arthritic changes in the spine that cause the facet joints which are located at each vertebra and connect the vertebrae together, to enlarge or thicken, or develop bone spurs. This takes up what should be open space...and results in spinal nerve compression.
Since the spinal nerves carry signals of movement and sensation to all parts of the body, when a nerve is compressed in the lower back, it can result in that pain you feel radiating down the leg, maybe even into the foot. If it is a cervical issue, it can lead to pain in your arms, shoulders, or hands....each nerve has a specific path...so we know that when
The descending right L5 nerve roots contact the hypertrophied facets and bulging disk within the lateral recess. The exiting right L4 nerve root contacts the hypertrophied facets with the neural foramen. it can cause pain that runs down the thigh and if it extends into the foot, it can cause pain and numbness in the big toe (L4) and the 3 middle toes (L5).
The first three disc bulges, between T12 and L3 are probably not causing a problem as they are not causing nerve involvement and are not large in size.
The effects appear to be worse with the next two disc segments. At L4-L5 the disc bulge is not large as these things go, but it is having an impact at both the left and right foramen and to a lesser extent, in the central canal. The facet joints are showing signs of arthritis changes and degeneration...wear and tear.
At the final lumbar level, L5-S1, the disc appears to be OK, but there are other issues that should be examined further. A possible pars defect is mentioned. This is a possible crack in a small bone, the pars, that may mean that there is a potential of a condition called spondylolisthesis, where one vertebra slides over the adjacent vertebra, in this case, allowed due to a defect in the pars....the writer suggests this be confirmed with a CT scan, but another method is with a flexion/extension x-ray, which will indicate what happens when you bend forward or backward to the l5-S1 segment. In addition the facet joints are enlarged and beginning to encroach into the adjoining foraminal space, causing stenosis.
Hope this helps you understand your report. When do you see your doctor for an interpretation of the findings?