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What Constitutes "Compression"

LumpyLLumpy Posts: 103
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:36 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
What Constitutes "Compression"?

I have a nice CD of my last MRI that gives me plenty to stare at when I am bore. I know I have a herniated disk at C6C7 and a bulge at C5C6. I can see it and the NS confirmed it. I can also see the narrowing into the spinal cord area (or in the radiologist’s terms, “partially obliterating the anterior subarachnoid space”). Don’t you love the way they use words like “obliterate”?

Anyway, my curiosity question is this: How much narrowing would be considered a compression? I’m guessing it depends on images and symptoms, but I would like to educate myself more on this.


  • Hi, I found an article that I had looked at a while back, their definition of comrpession is: When something presses with enough force on the spinal cord, the primary function of sending signals to the brain and rest of the body is interrupted. Compression of the spinal cord can occur in a variety of ways, such as through a herniated disc that has ruptured, tumors, abscesses, among others. The goal of treatment is to alleviate the pressure and any associated pain. This can be accomplished through a combination of rest, medicine and surgery.

    Hope this answers your question,
  • That does help. BTW, is there a glossary of terms somewhere on this sight. Maybe I am just overlooking it.
  • Glad it helped, I have no idea about a glossery on this site though. I often look things up on medscape or something like that.

  • Hi Lumpy

    In my experience the doctors are more interested in what is bothering you than in what the MRI shows. Many people have bulges and herniations but never know it because they don't have enough pain to look into it. Ortho told me that as we age we all get these problems.

    Even when they see a problem in the MRI if you don't have the symptoms to match they will ignor it and look for something else.

    I had a surgeon look at my MRI and say well there is nothing I can do for you because you don't have arm pain, but having a herniated disc will help for your lawsuit.

    Have you seen your doctor yet to review the MRI? Ask them to explain line by line what it means and what it means to you. Don't expect that they will do this - you have to ask.

    Good Luck and let us know what happens.
  • Thanks for the reply, Kris. You are right about the symptomless herniation. Even the definition ilene posted has as much to do with symptoms as it does with appearance.

    I told the NS I didn't even want to know what my lower back looked like, since it doesn't bother me often. The NS and I went over the report and the pics of my cervical. And of course the MRI is not the do-all-be-all diagnostics tool, so most of the conversation was framed by the idea of finding root cause for my current symptoms. He was willing to explain it all and even to meet with me again about follow up questions a few days later.

    The thing that I see when I read these forums, some of the educational material, other MRI reports, etc. is there is so much variance in the words used and how they are used even in the medical community. Its very confusing. I read somewhere that there is a criteria for the use of the words mild, medium and large when describing a disc. It had as much to do with how important it was to address as it did with the actual size. It would be nice to have a glossary of the adjectives along with the criteria behind each.
  • The only thing that is certain is the uncertainty...Somewhere on this site is an intro to spine problems. It says that there are many different terms used to describe the same thing. I am an accountant and I like things that are finite. 1 + 1 = 2 always. I am so frustrated by what I am going through. One doctor says one thing and another says something different. One PT says this is the problem and another says the opposite.

    I guess the human body is just too intricate for us to understand and the spine and nervous system seem to be one of the most complex. By using so many different terms I think the doctors give themselves some room for change (won't say error - lol)

    Try to stay focused on your symptoms and how to get relief instead of trying to pin point test results. From what you wrote above, in my humble opinion, it sounds like you are looking at more pain management and PT than surgery.

    I also like the double intendre - finding the root cause.

    Good luck and keep writing. We learn so much from each others experiences.
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