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Understanding Spine MRI Results

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Old 07-27-2012, 05:21 PM   #1
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Question Understanding Spine MRI Results


I've been reading these boards with a lot of fascination and find them helpful and some of the threads have been helpful in addressing the issue I'm about to bring forth, to which I know there are many. Given all the Spinal MRI results I've seen here, my radiologist wasn't particularly forthcoming, so hopefully someone can assist in deciphering this as to whether or not it's a big deal. It is to me because I've been having some symptoms that have increased over the last year a half.

Ok, so I'll just write out the results that pertain to abnormalities in the cervical spine, there is no point in writing it all out and boring everyone unnecessarily.

C4-5: there is a mild central disc osteophyte complex which minimally effaces the ventral thecal sac but causes no significant canal stenosis or cord flattening. There is no foraminal narrowing

C5-6: There is a central disc osteophyte complex which effaces the ventral sac and flattens the cord with moderate canal stenosis . Uncovertebral hypertrophy results in mild right foraminal narrowing. The left foramen is patent.

C6-7: There is a central/paracentral broad-based disc protrustion which effaces the ventral thecal sac and results in moderately severe canal stenosis. Uncovertebral hypertrophy causes mild to moderate right foraminal narrowing. The left foramen is patent.

Impression: At C6-C7 there is a central/right paracentral broad-based disc protrusion which results in moderately severe canal stenosis. There is also moderate right foraminal narrowing.
At C5-6 a central disc osteophyte complex results in moderate canal stenosis. There is mild right foraminal narrowing.

Okay, so with this, I have had the WILDEST symptoms over the last year and a half. The first was left facial numbness. It would come and go and was NOT related to cardiac or vessel events. I have had tingling and numbness in my left hand, right hand, down the left forearm with lightning like shooting pain. There has also been heaviness in the left arm. Pain between the shoulder blades. I have headaches that are severe and extend from the back of my skull to the top of my head. I have had visual disturbances in my RIGHT eye, to where there will be blurryness that lasts hours or days. I feel "off balance" as if I'm going around the world to the left. I have a heaviness feeling of my entire head, as if it's weighted. I have HORRIFIC chronic and acute pain of my lower back, through the buttocks and down BOTH legs to the back of the feet (heels). I also have constant aching in my hips, worse on the right with lightning like shooting pains. My legs also have a falling asleep type feeling and this has happened while DRIVING. I have also fallen straight out of bed thinking my feet would touch the floor, only to find they were dead asleep. This pain in the lower extremities never goes away, only on and off in intensity. My last doctor's visit, she tested the reflexes on my knees, I didn't HAVE any. I also have constant snap crackle popping noises at the back of my head that drives me crazy! I cannot turn my head completely to the right, but a little more on the left.

Okay, so now, lower lumbar MRI results

L3-L4 There is minimal circumferential disc bulging and mild facet degenerative changes. No significant canal or foraminal narrowing
L4-L5: There is mild circumferential disc bulging and mild facet degenerative changes without significant canal or foraminal narrowing appreciated.
L5-S1-There is a small central disc protrustion with an associated annular tear. This results in no significant canal stenosis., foraminal narrowing or definitive nerve root impingement There is mild facet degenerative change bilaterally.
Impression: At L5-S1: there is a small central disc protrusion with an associated annular tear. This causes no significant canal stenosis, foraminal narrowing or nerve root impingment
Mild degenerative chnages with the lower lumbar spine as described. WHY do I have all of this crazy stuff and unbearable pain in my lower extremities? could this be because of the cervical issues?

Also, what is "cord flattening" and what does this mean as it pertains to the MRI reading or spinal issue?

Is this MRI a serious reading or no big deal?

Thank you so much for reading!

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Old 07-30-2012, 03:56 PM   #2
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Re: Understanding Spine MRI Results

yeah, that's the thing about radiologist....they take the pictures, they don't tell to speak.I certainly hope that you have an appointment scheduled with your spine doc.

About the cord flattening. What that means is that your spinal cord is being compressed-or flattened. It could be causing any mumber of your problems. I would like to work from the feet up. The fact that you are having these nerve jolts as I call them, tells that you are having compression of your nerves that branch out from F5/S1. This is where the nerves slplit off and run down either leg, much like an inverted Y. the pain tha is running over your sitting bones and going down your legs is the result of compression of your siactic nerve. I am WELL aware of what that feels like and how it hurts.

the pain that you have in your legs and feet can be equated to th pain of standing on a cement floor for hours with no shoes, in my opinion. Miserable achy with bolts of pain like a cattle prod or sticking your finger in an outlet, right?this a nd the numbness in your feet-which I also have-says that you have nerve damage going on in your lower lumbar area. You said that you had no knee reflexes at your last visit. I don't have any either so I know what an odd feeling that is.

The lumbar area , sacrum through L5 is the area that affects the legs, hips and feetl. The Thorasic area is mid back with the nec area being the cerivcal which is the area of the back that is related to your arms and such. there is a map called a dermatome that describes which disc is responsible for which relating nerve and where it affects your body. You might want to look one up on's interesting reading.

As far as the upper back. the nerve compression can be causing the tingling and the numbness in your hands. As far as the headaches and eye issues go, I couldn't say. But feeling off balance can be caused by ear issues. Have you seen anyone about the headaches? Are they migraines?

Your MRI has some issues, but there are many that are/were worse. You have some nerve compression and some cord compression-and you should have it checked out. As for the nerve pain, that can be treated with medication that controls nerve pain. I am on one and have been for 8 years. It does help. The primary job of the nerve medication is/ws to control seizures. The fact that it controls nerve pain is an added benefit.

If you haven't been referred to a good spine doctor, you need to ask for a referral. Issues that involve the back, such as yours are doing, should be seen by someone who trains specifically to treat it. After all, it hold us up and we one have one.

Please check the back board here, it is full of wonderful folks who all suffer or who have suffered at one time or another...I am fused from T9-sacrum, so I have been dealing with back issues for quite awhile. Keep us posted as to your status!

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