Re: Herniated disc c5 and c6
I think most of the people here are talking about hernias as in an abdominal hernia but it is the same thing when you herniate a disk...it pops through where it shouldn't be.
I'm Jenny and I post regularly on the Spinal Cord Disorders board where a lot of the people with neck problems gather to share info. And I help a lot of people understand their MRI's.
A couple of explanations first....the "uncovertebral joints" are small protrusions on the outside of the vertebra along with the facet joints. Being joints, they can get arthritis just like any joint and that means they develop bone spurs and these spurs can grow with time and activity. These exterior joints help with stability when we make twisting motions.
Disks are in between the vertebrae and the back edge of it is right up against the spinal cord. So a herniation or bulging to the back of the disk or even a displacement backwards as you have, can push it toward the cord.
So in your case, you have a displaced disk...not herniated...the entire disk is pushed backwards in displacement, and it's hitting the front of the spinal cord, itself. They only say it's "flattening" the cord so that is good. The spinal cord can actually take quite a bit of compression. I had it at multiple levels with my cord down to less than half it's normal thickness. There is no mention of the actual diameter of your cord so I suspect you aren't in major trouble.
The second thing of importance is the spinal nerves. It seems that something is compressing the C7 nerve although with disk problems at a higher level, I'm not sure how that is happening but I can't see the films. The spinal nerves peel off the cord at each vertebra(except C1) and then exit the bone through small holes on either side of the bone around the spinal cord. Anything, bone spurs, disk pieces, hardened ligaments....all sorts of things, can press on these nerve as they exit the bone and that causes major pain. The pain can radiate down the arm and eventually, with enough pressure, cause numbness and muscle dysfunction. If the nerve dies, you have paralysis.
Likewise, the spinal cord can also be compressed to the point of of losing the blood supply and dying and you can be paralyzed. This is when surgery comes into play....to stop the possibility of nerve or cord death or even permanent damage to them.
In MRI speak, they use the words Minimal, Mild, Moderate and Severe to rate the degree of compression to the cord and the nerves. Did any of those words appear in your report?
Usually the docs don't operate until you start to develop numbness or tingling or other signs of the nerve or cord having trouble with the blood supply. Until then, it is pain management and physical therapy.
I hope this helps. Any questions, I'm around.