Re: Is this Arthritis or what does this MRI Really Mean?
Well it's pretty much summed up at the bottom. You do have degenerative disk disease which is a form of arthritis. It can often cause spurs to grow as a result, herniations and of course as was noticed disk loss or change.
You also have several herniations with 5 and 6 being problematic and of course you do have stenosis, or narrowing of the spinal column and something is causing an impingment which will cause you nerve pain.
If I were you I would seek out a Nuerosurgeon or an orthopeadic surgeon who specializes in neck and back surgery and get a second opinion, especially if you are experiencing severe pain.
I do suggest you stop by the Spinal Cord board here where you will find tons of information and helfpul stories and experiences.
I have and had the same problem as you. I had several of my disks fused but due to a car accident a year later I have herniations again and a broken screw. My surgery was very successful up until the point of the accident and I was quite pain free.
I can tell you that any impingement that is left untreated for a long period of time can cause permanent nerve damage.
Some of the things that can be done outside of surgery is of course physical therapy which may or may not help with the pain. Some claim that herniations do reabsorb but I've never seen it occur (I've had many herniations for years without reabsorbtion). You "might" benefit from home traction. And of course there's always the medication route. If you do go that route I highly suggest you seek out a Pain Management specialist.
Steriodal injections or EPI's are pretty useless when it comes to moderate to severe herniations and or damage. In other cases they are about 50% effective. Not everyone responds the same to them.
If you have any questions don't hesitate to ask. I hope that you are not suffering from too much pain but if you are you should definately seek out a surgeon who at least at a minimum can remove the herniations. There is not much that can be done about spinal stenosis other than standard treatments as a very small percentage of those with Spinal stenosis are operated on and when it is operated on it is in a pretty severe or advanced state.