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Well, the xrays did show major issues!!

yasminayyasmina Posts: 166
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:38 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
Some of you may recall my post last week about my arm and shoulder pain, and numbness in my hand up through my elbow. My pcp felt that it was injury from a fall i had recently and that it would heal on it's own.

Well, her office called me the other day to tell me that I need to see the neurosurgeon who did my lower back 2 years ago. Today I went to pick up a copy of the report (I already have the films). Here's what it says:

Rt. side C2-3 extensive facet hypertrophy

C5-6 moderate loss of disc height and marginal osteophytes. Moderate to severe neural foraminal narrowing due to unciate hypertrophy and posterior osteophytes.

I've tried to do some research, but is there anyone here who can translate this into English for me?


  • Gee, I wouldn't think that anything listed here is necessarily causing you new pain, or would suddenly occur as a result of a fall. Perhaps your pain has been ongoing?

    Most of these terms relate to degenerative conditions that happen to most of us at some point. Hypertrophy is basically the enlargement of the facet joints, which can be painful. At C5-6 there are a couple of things that are taking up space that might be causing nerve compression. Osteophytes are little bony overgrowths that can form on the facet joints as well as on any bony structure. You can read about them here and see how they contribute to pain:


    These two conditions (hypertrophy and osteophytes) are also encroaching on the foraminal opening. This is an opening located at each vertebra that the spinal nerves pass through from the spinal cord out into the body. When bony overgrowths clog up the opening, the nerves can become compressed. This can cause the pain that you are feeling radiating down your arms or legs, depending on which foramen is clogged up.

    If it helps to visualize things, think of an old copper pipe that has become filled with mineral deposits. It can become so clogged that no water can run through. With foraminal stenosis, the opening becomes clogged when things grow into the space. Stenosis is simply a narrowing. Oh, I see he didn't even use the term "stenosis." He called it foraminal narrowing -- means there is room for the nerve to pass but the space is more narrow than it should be, which means there is probably not enough room for the nerve to pass freely...= pain.

    Loss of disc height is self-explanatory and is also a degenerative change. As we age, and for the spine this process begins in our twenties, the discs dry out and lose height.

    Your spinal specialist may want to order a MRI so he can see these changes in more detail.

    This is just my general impression of what is listed in your report. Of course you need your spinal specialist to interpret the films for you.

    Good luck.
  • Everything you said made perfect sense. Thanks for the clear explanation.

    I can't help but wonder if these conditions weren't present all along, but were exacerbated by the fall? Would that be possible? I've had pain for a long time in my upper back near my shouler blades, and in the back of my head on the right side, but never the arm, hand, and finger tingling, which hits for no particular rhyme or reason. No particular position or movement seems to cause it.
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