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Need Help understanding my cervical MRI

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:27 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I am new and this is my first post. However, I have spent months reading so many of your posts on neck pain and cervical MRI's. Thank you for all of your information.

I am very confused about my last two MRI's. They were completed at the same facility and reported by the same Radiologist. However they seem to have contradictions.
In a quick summary, I was in a painful horse back riding accident that resulted in a shattered wrist and severe whiplash (due to landing on my head after being catapulted through the air) that had my neck and head stuck over to my right shoulder for 2-3 months followed by significant pain since the accident in 2004.

The reports read as this:

2005 report-C2-C3 The disc is desiccated. There is no significant loss of height. Minimal left unvocertebral and facet degenerative arthrosis present. No foraminal or spinal stenosis.
2009 report C2-C3 The disc is developing a little bit of desiccation but is otherwise normal. No foraminal or spinal stenosis. (How could it be developing if it was on the last report three years ago?)

2005-C3-C4 There is desiccation of the disc, without significant loss of height. The foraminal and central spinal canal are widely patent.
2009-C3-C4 Normal (could this just heal on its own? What happened to the desiccation of the disc?)

2005-C4-C5 Normal
2009-C4-C5 Normal

2005-C5-C6 Normal
2009-C5-C6 Disc height and hydration remain relatively normal. There is mild anterior osseous ridging which has increased slightly over the interim. No posterior bulges or protrusions. No foraminal or spinal stenosis.

2005-C6-C7 Small, broad based posterior disc/osteophyte complex. Left slightly greater than right uncovertebral and facet degenerative arthrosis. A mild degree of left foraminal stenosis is likely. Central spinal canal and right neural foramen are within normal limits.
2009-C6-C7 Disc has mild desiccation and mild loss of height. There is mild endplate marrow edema, mainly involving the posterior corners of both C6 and C7. There is a small, broad based posterior disc osteophyte complex with left unvocertebral and facet degenerative arthrosis seen. Mild encroachment on the left neural foramen. The right neural foramen remains normal. Only minimal effacement of the anterior aspect of the thecal sac noted. No cord contact or cord deformation.

Any help you could give me in understanding this would help. My doctors say nothing is really going on in there. My pain has gotten more intense and differant over this last six months. It is now very deep and achy, like a terrible toothache. I have numbness and tingling in my hands and fingers sometimes. I can not tolerate lifting anything, due to it causing pain and headaches. If someone comes up and pats me on the back, it can and usually does give me an instant headache. Sometimes, I can not get the pain under control and I have to just go to bed. Sleeping is difficult and I have to be very careful that I do not sleep on my neck wrong, or it can take up to three days to get my pain back under control. Can anyone give me any information as to why or what is causing this due to the doctor telling me there is nothing really wrong with my neck.

Desperately seeking answers, Lisa


  • I am going through kinda of the same thing as you. I have had two MRIs about 10 mts apart. One read 2mm disc protrusion on c5-6 and c6-7. 10mths later it read 2mm disc protrusion on c5-6 and minimal bulges at c6-7 and c7-t1.

    My neck and shoulders are almost always achey. I have nerve pain running from my biceps to my fingers. My hands go numb. My symptoms are on both sides. I have symptoms that don't match my mri readings.

    I just started to see a new physical therapist who also has two bad cervical disc and two bad lumbar disc. He has been a pt for almost 30 yrs. He has told me that MRIs are a lot of times wrong and/or don't show everything that is going on. Your symptoms are what is telling the Drs where your problems are. It makes sense. If something is pushing on a certain nerve you have problems with where that nerve runs.

    I've read a lot here where individuals have had horrible symptoms and their Dr's don't believe them until they go in and do surgery and find out that there is a huge herniation where their MRIs showed nothing or a smaller problem. I've also read that discograms are very good in providing accurate readings.

    I just asked the question earlier about facet joint symptoms. I have a feeling that the achy muscles in the neck and the headaches are from your facet joints at c6-7.
    Of course I am not a Dr and this is just my opinion.

    I was told many times by my pm Dr that it was all in my head. He even suggested I get on some anti-depressants. My pt is the only one who believes me. He did some test on my arm strength. My right arm was weaker than my left. He stretched my neck several times and did the test again. My right arm now was as strong as my left. I could feel the difference right away. He explained that the bulge/protrusion had been moved by the stretches and was off the nerve. That is why the sudden strength in the right arm. That makes sense.

    The MRIs films not the readings. Have you taken them to be read by a neurosurgeon or ortho surgeon? My MRIs were read by my neruosurgeon and pm drs and both said I have a large bulge not protrusion.

    Desciccated is the drying of the disc and that I've been told is normal with aging.

    I hope you find some answers from someone here. I am sure you will. Stay positive and you are going to have to be your own advicate. Change your Dr if you can.

  • Thank you so much. We are surely going through the same thing. I have so many of the same symptoms that you discussed. My pain has gotten more intense over the last six months and sometimes I feel like the drs think it is in my head, but I know it is not. I even have a hard time driving now because I can not turn my head very far to the left to look for traffic coming. My quality of life has changed due to not being able to do alot of the things I used to do. I am going to go to a neuorsurgeon and let him read my mri films. Maybe that will help. Thanks again.

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