Re: help with reading mri
Hi Amherst...used to live in Westfield. Still have my spine doc in Mass(Boston).
Okay, let's take this level by level and I'll explain the terms.
C3-4....the disk between C3 and C4 is bulging but is not herniated. A herniation will show up as a bump whereas a bulge is just that, the disk is bulging backwards toward the spinal cord(think slightly squished donut). It is hitting the "thecal sac" which is the lining around the spinal cord that holds in the spinal fluid around the cord. It is not hitting the cord itself.
C4-5...the disk is again bulging and has a small herniation "bump" showing in the back center(where the cord is) and it hits not only the thecal sac but it hits the cord as well but is not showing any indentations in the cord(think jelly donut, slightly squished with jelly coming out the hole). Then you have the first mention of the "foramina". These are the holes in the sides of the vertebral bone that allows the nerves that peel off the cord, to exit out to the body. They are open at this level(patent).
C5-6...again, another disk bulge which is just starting to touch the thecal sac. No cord involvement. But the foramina have problems. Both sides are partially blocked by bone spurs along with some disk material. They grade the degree of blockage with the words...minimal, mild, moderate, and severe. You are "moderate" on both with the right side a little worse but not yet severe. This causes a lot of pain in the arms.
C6-7...you have the same problem as above. Bulging disk but not hitting the thecal sac or cord. And both foramina are blocked "moderately".
C7-T1...same problem with the bulging disk hitting the thecal sac. No foraminal involvement
T1-2..same problem again with the disk bulge, with a small herniation, hitting the thecal sac and cord. This is similar to C4-5.
There is mention of disk narrowing. This comes from the disks drying out and shrinking and it makes them more likely to bulge. Comes with age and injury.
So there are 2 disk herniations but neither is causing a major problem. The cord can be compressed down to half it's thickness before it requires surgical intervention. Most of your pain is probably coming from the bone spurs that are blocking the foramina on the sides. Most surgeons won't operate until you get to the severe range, unfortunately. You have a neck that hurts but it not bad enough to risk fixing as the surgery can cause more problems than it fixes.
But you do need better medical management with stronger drugs. PT can help a lot. If necessary, you can get epidural injections around the worst areas and that can really help. If you do want to see a good spine doc, go to Boston. The spine docs in Springfield did more harm than good with me. I use the Boston Spine Group or the spine docs at New England Baptist Hospital. Headed there tomorrow. Worth the trip and for me, and it's almost 3 hours each way. I love them!
Jenny(fused C3 to T1)