Re: Questions about MRI results
Hello. Welcome to the board. I'm sure you already know that members do not have formal medical training, so keep that in mind when reading! I can give you a general idea of the language and terms, and your doctor will be the one to "interpret" the MRI. Keep in mind it is just one piece of the diagnostic puzzle. The doctor will correlate the MRI findings with what he finds upon physical exam, basic neurologic exam and after listening to your health history and description of symptoms and how it impacts your daily life.
Probably the majority of people with lower back pain have an issue at the Lumbar 4-Lumbar 5 segment of the spine. This segment carries the brunt of all movement and has a tendency to wear out first.
The report indicates you have some degenerative changes going on in these two areas of your spine. The lumbar spine is made up of five lumbar vertebrae (bone) and five intervertebral discs that are comprised primarily of "water" and act as the shock absorbers of the spine. The vertebrae are connected together by synovial joints called facet joints. They are subject to various arthritic changes just like other synovial joints of the body like the ankle, knee or hip.
At L4 - L5: there is a posterior osteocartilagenous bar with hypertrophic changes involving the facets. This results in mild compression of the sac and possible compression of the L5 nerve roots as they exit the sac. There is no encroachment on the foramina.
This indicates that there are bone spurs and other changes that are enlarging the facet joints at the L4-L5 level. Because the joint is taking up more room due to the bone spurs and enlargement, it is pushing into the thecal sac (the sac that contains the spinal nerves in the central canal). It looks like the L5 spinal nerves may be compressed as they are coming from the thecal sac...but it is not taking space away from the foramina which is the opening through which the spinal nerves pass as they exit the spine and go out into the body. (It is the nerve irritation or compression that can cause the nerve pain that radiates out to the limbs, etc.)
At L3-L4 there is very mild disc space narrowing. This is an indication that there is a little bit of wear and tear on this disc. It is beginning to flatten out, which means that there is less of a shock absorber between the two bones. (Radiology language has specific adjectives that are used as a "ratings" system. They are minimal, mild, moderate and severe.) You will note the reporter judges the narrowing to be mild...so it is worth mentioning but nothing that requires treatment at this point.
Hope this gives you an idea of what the language is indicating.