Re: Please help me understand my mri results.
Are you seeing a spine specialist? This could be either a fellowship trained orthopedic spine surgeon or a neurosurgeon whose practice is limited to the neck and back. Your neck problems are sufficiently complicated that I would encourage you to not waste time being treated by a pain management doctor or a PCP. Even though the two specialties I mentioned have "surgeon" in the title, all conservative treatment methods will be tried, with surgery only considered as a last resort.
It is difficult to tease apart which findings are a result of the accident and which you already had prior to the accident, as many things mentioned are the type of thing that comes with living -- "wear and tear."
Almost everyone shows some bulging discs by the time they reach a certain age. The spine begins the aging process in our twenties...so it is not uncommon to have a disc bulge in the 30s or 40s.
One thing that is helpful to know is that radiologists use specific adjectives almost as a ranking system, to indicate approximately "how bad" a problem is. They are: minimal, mild, moderate and severe. Minimal and mild generally mean that problems are worth noting but will just need watching and perhaps some conservative treatments like a course of physical therapy or oral medication. Moderate can go either way and severe means severe!
You will note that you have slight disc bulges at a number of levels and there is what I assume is spondylolisthesis. This is where one vertebra slips over the top of the adjacent vertebra, often causing some instability at that segment. Yours is occurring to the posterior side...and the report doesn't indicate to what extent. This, along with the disc bulges, serves to create some narrowing of the central canal. If something is pushing into the central canal it can cause nerve irritation or compression, which can result in pain that you can feel at the site, or radiating out to a limb or body part....(If you are curious, you can look online for a "dermatome map" which will show you which area of the body is innervated by which spinal nerve.)
If you go to a spine specialist, he/she will be able to correlate the findings of the MRI to what is found on physical exam, a basic neurologic exam and from listening to your description of your symptoms and their impact on your day to day living. In your case it is difficult to judge just how serious your issues might be. It may be that a course of physical therapy and perhaps a couple epidural steroid injections will resolve the problems...I hope that is the case for you.
You will find that there are members with cervical spine issues that post on the "Spinal Cord Disorder" board. You might find someone there who could provide more information.