Re: Help reading my MRI results
In a nutshell, your lumbar spine, particularly from the L3 vertebra down, is showing signs of what you can think of as arthritic type changes. There are several different things going on, but they combine to decrease the space in two important areas where the nerves travel through: the central canal and the foramen. The central canal is a continuation of the main canal through which runs the "spinal cord." Below the T-12--L1 level it carries the spinal nerves in a twisted mass called the "cauda equina."
The foramen are openings at each level of vertebrae through which the corresponding spinal nerves exit and go forth out into the body. Both of these areas can be a major location for nerve compression. Both areas are supposed to be free of "gunk" so the nerves can pass unimpeded. When there are bone spurs, bony overgrowths, bulging discs, etc. it takes up space in the opening that is needed by the nerves to pass freely. This results in either nerve impingement or nerve irritation...which causes the pain you feel in the lower back, perhaps the buttocks, leg and foot.
The report indicates that the amount of stenosis that you have is moderate at the L3-L4, L4-L5 and L5-S1 levels, and mild at L2-L3. In radiology speak, conditions of the lumbar spine are rated minimal, mild, moderate and severe...so you can see that moderate is one classification away from the worst (severe). With a severe classification, chances that surgery might be necessary are fairly good...with mild and minimal, the person would not be a candidate for surgery and moderate falls somewhere in between the two.
It looks like your discs are all OK since they aren't mentioned. Most of your pain seems to be coming from the facet joints, which are suffering from some degenerative change.
This should give you some basic information to help to familiarize you with some of the terms. Your doctor should go over your results with you and explain what is significant and what is interesting but not really an issue, and should then correlate the MRI findings to the results of a physical and basic neurologic exam as well as your history and description of symptoms.