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Questions about MRI report

nicole26nnicole26 Posts: 20
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:43 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I just had a couple of questions about my MRI report that I had done before my laninectomy/discectomy on l4/l5 in August 09, I just got a copy of my report just out of curiosity. It says I have age related facet disease is seen bilaterally at all levels,the canal and foramina are widley patent at all levels this is for l1 through l3-4,at l5-s1 spondylosis in concentric bulge is seen, posterocentral protrusion to the left is seen, the canal and foramina are patent, age related facet change is seen bilaterally. Mild age-reated facet change at all levels. I aplogize if that is hard to follow. It has been almost 8 months since my surgery and I have alot of mid and upper back pain not so much at l4-l5 since surgery I was just wondering if anyone has had anything similar after this kind of surgery, my back just feels weaker and it just feels exhausted by mid day. I am taking ultram 2 tabs 2x a day for the pain. Thankyou for listening to me ramble I really enjoy this site you all are a great support system to all spineys!!


  • The most likely cause of your pain, from what information you provide abovee, would be coming from the facet joints. There is some very good information on this website:


    You might read through it to see if anything sounds "familiar."

    It is fairly common when one has a problem in the back that there is compensation with the muscles and soft tissue. When you have surgery, the muscles and soft tissue have to re-acclimate to the new situation. Some have become too stretched out and others may have been contracted for quite awhile. It takes some time for things to settle down...This may be part of the problem.

    Your posture and body mechanics may have changed somewhat since surgery without you even being aware of it.

    Have you been working on strengthening all the muscles in the core, pelvic girdle and back? It is important that everything is in balance.

    I wouldn't think at age 26 that you'd have too many "age-related" issues!!

    Have you had a MRI of your cervical and thoracic spine? If the pain continues, that might be the next step.

    Good luck.
  • You always have such great points and thankyou for taking time to reply.

    I had PT after my surgery and I still do my excercises that I was tought. I had forgot to mention that I also have scoliosis that is 32 degree's which the DR's have never been to concerned about.?? I don't have the same type of pain in my back as I did pre-surgery like the shooting pains actually l4/l5 doesn't seem to bother me just my upper back just feels so exhausted and no matter what I do that day it feels the same every day it's uncomfortable enough for me to take my ultram daily. I guess you could say I unfortuantly have a high tolerance with pain meds Tylenol and Motrin don't help with my back pain..

    I have not had any other MRI's but I have to go every 3 months to the surgeon so I can cont the ultram daily, I will mention how my upper back feels.

    Thankyou again for replying..Take Care
  • That's great you still do your exercises. Keep at it. So many people heal and then go right back to all the bad habits they had prior to surgery.

    I sure would think your scoliosis plays at least a small part in your back. I must say I do not have personal experience with it, and am not that knowledgeable about it, so am not the right person to comment....I am doing a lot of work with a guy I call my rearranger. I am now VERY aware how much spinal alignment plays in the overall health and comfort of the body in general, and back, in particular.

    I know, for example, that having pain across the shoulder-blade area can be a sign that the person is carrying his/her head in a slighly forward position, which also causes the shoulders to round more forward than they should be. This causes some rotation in the spine below the shoulder blade level.

    Are you able to lie on a flat surface, like a carpeted floor or a yoga mat? If it doesn't hurt your back too much to do that, you might try this natural traction exercise. It helps unload the discs, opening up the space in between and helps to let all the soft tissue relax in the event that it is tight or contracted.

    Lie flat on your back on the floor. Be sure your body is in straight alignment. Bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor. Place arms close to the sides of your body, with palms facing upward toward the ceiling. Tuck your chin every so slightly toward chest. And be sure your pelvis is in “neutral” position.

    Now, just relax. Breathe deeply from the belly, letting it rise up and fall back down. Try to relax completely …think pleasant thoughts and keep breathing from the belly. Try to stay this way about 5 minutes.

    The alternate to this is to lie on the floor on your back with your hips snuggled right up against the front of a couch or chair. Lift and fold legs so from the knee to the feet, your calves are resting on the seat of the couch. Arms should be by your sides, palms facing up to the ceiling. Again, relax and breathe deeply from the belly.

    Both these exercises are a natural form of traction that allows the spine to unload. Any muscles and soft tissue that are “guarding” the spine should also be able to relax.

    When I am having a bad day, I might do one of these at least three times a day. Otherwise, I make a point of doing it every day at some point. Some days when I wake up, I feel out of alignment. So before beginning the day, I hit the floor first thing. Otherwise, in the evening while watching TV I’ll do it then and stay longer than five minutes.

    Hope this might help you, too.


    By the way, "widely patent" just means "being open and unobstructed"...another way of saying the way they should be...or OK.
  • Gwennie,

    I was so happy to read your post because it validated something that I had just recently discovered. I'm 13 weeks post-op from a L5/S1 fusion and I'm still having a lot of pain while sitting (presumably due to scar tissue). I have noticed that when I do PT, my pain goes away entirely. As soon as I stop, it comes right back.

    After thinking about it, I always start my PT by laying on the floor on my back with my legs up on a large yoga ball and then start my exercises. I've noticed that after laying on the floor that my pain rapidly diminishes. So, one day when my pain was getting bad, I just tried laying on the floor on my back with my feet up on the yoga ball, and very quickly my pain disappeared even without doing any exercise.

    This is now my favorite resting position while watching TV or whatever. I've found that I can lay there for up to two hours at a time very comfortably before I need to get up and stretch.

    Your explanation makes so much sense and I just wanted to share my own observation about the potential benefit of resting on your back (with your legs up). Hopefully, this will work for others as well.

    Take care,
  • I'm going to be the disclaimer on this thread by saying that before you do ANY post-op exercises or activity, clear it with your surgeon and/or PT. Nobody here is qualified to tell you it will be fine to do self-decompression activities.

    Work with your surgeon and PT with any post-op things that you plan to try or with any post-op problems you're having. You've had major spine surgery and to undermine that surgery could threaten to create more problems and more surgery.

    Just be careful. There's nobody on this site that is a doctor or a physical therapist and can only offer suggestions or what has worked for them. The safest thing you can do when you read these posts, is to write down what you'd like to try then call your surgeon and/or PT to get it cleared.

    Take care,
  • I will have to try these excercises instead of curling up on the couch watching a little tv at night I'll relax on the floor!! Anything to provide some releif! I appreciate you taking your time to reply.
  • Yes I'm sorry I just saw your post after I had replied to Gwennie's post.You have a good point about talking with my surgeon/PT before starting anything new.

    Thanks for taking time to read and reply to my post.
  • No need for apologies. I just can't think of anything that would be worse than to get some suggestions here, try them only to find out that there's a reason your surgeon didn't want you to do it and make you take two steps back in your recovery.

    Take care,
  • A couple of things come to mind. First when do you go back to your surgeon? If it's soon then wait to ask him otherwise see if you can talk to him on the phone.

    I love the age-related degeneration reports. I swear insurance companies have stock in radiology offices. I was told that by age 40 we all have mid-low back degenertive issues so don't bother trying to say an accident caused it. I understand it but don't have to like it. I've also seen lots of horrible MRI reports. I wonder if they bothered to look at your age.

    No matter what the cause you want relief. Talk to your doctor to see if he feels new tests are needed. If not see if you can go back to PT. They can show you the right things to do to get stronger and they are usually very good at spotting problems that your doc should know about.

    At 26 you don't want to be on those pain meds. This long after surgery you should be pretty pain free and getting on with your life. There has to ba an answer so don't stop until you get it.
  • I apparently did not explain myself well enough and used the wrong terminology in describing this natural form of "traction". What I described to Nicole is NOT an exercise. It is a natural body posture that allows the discs to naturally unload. It is NOT "self-decompression." It is no more taxing on the body than lying in bed at night. It employs standard body mechanics that would be safe for anyone who is allowed by their doctors to lie down to go to sleep at night. It does nothing more than get the weight of gravity off the spine for a few minutes.

  • I am not a medical professional. I know nothing about your particular medical condition, so anything I say should not be used, because it may not apply to you. Whatever you do, please don't lie on the floor with your feet up on a yoga ball since you had a laminectomy/discectomy in August of 2009 (8 months ago) and you may not be ready. I had a spinal fusion in January of 2010 and I'm doing all kinds of prescribed rigorous exercises and I've found that this relaxation position is very comfortable for me. Again, please don't try this without first consulting a medical professional. I hope I put enough disclaimers for the moderators this time.
  • breitsd said:
    ..... I had a spinal fusion in January of 2010 and I'm doing all kinds of prescribed rigorous exercises ...

    Prescribed for you by your doc based on your specific injury and surgery is the key.
    breitsd said:
    ....and I've found that this relaxation position is very comfortable for me.
    4 months post op a fusion is still early on in the recovery/healing phase. So many people here can share with you that hindsight is 20/20. I certainly hope you still feel the same way about this non-prescribed relaxation technique in a year, or two years.

  • I cannot believe the insinuation you just made. I'm using the same position that my physical therapist told me to use. I am sick of the "know it all" attitudes of the moderators on this site. I am done with this useless forum.
  • No where have you stated that this technique was one prescribed by your Physical Therapist. I apologize if I missed that somewhere.

    There are way to many stories here, that members who are so excited early on in recovery that they do things not recommended by their treatment team and wind up regretting it later on. Some have caused themselves complications that have required further surgery, medications and Pain Management procedures.

    I am merely trying to caution you and others, that non-prescribed techniques which may seem innocuous at the moment, have the potential to cause long term irreversible issues.

  • Please quit all the drama here. All the mods and authority members are doing are asking members to check with their medical professionals if they're still under their care. Simple as that.

    Gwennie, thanks for explaining. That makes it much clearer to the members.
  • When I'm making dinner, or standing for any length of time, I have to stop for a minute and take pressure off my back by leaning on my hands for a few minutes. So sorry you have to deal with this, Nicole, hopefully the docs can help you with this, and Gwennie, thanks for the suggestion and explanations! I'm going to try the floor after I post this!

    I too was puzzled at the "age-related" thing in the MRI results, I think that's part of a form the radiologists fill out or something, because it seems to be in more reports than not! I asked my surgeon about mine, as I had a lot of those things in my report (though I'm not nearly as young as you, I'm 46), and he said that my age-related findings shouldn't show up until I'm well into my 60's. Hrmmm. I guess I'm just not aging as gracefully as I'd hoped!

    Again, Nicole, I hope they can resolve your problem for you, keep us posted!

  • My first opinion surgeon told me that after 25, your spine shows visible signs of degeneration.
    He then checked that I was over 25!!! Charmer! lol!
    (I'm a long way past that)
  • You def. described it perfectly for ex. last night as I was washing dish's I had to lean over for a min. just to get the pressure of my back! But I have to look at the positive side at least it is not the unbearable pain I had before my surgery. I am just praying that L5-S1 just conts. to stay a bulging disc and does not herniate. I laugh when I hear age-related..I am like I am "26" not in my 60's !! I guess I am following in my mom's footsteps she had L4-S1 fused then had to have a cervical fusion about 2 years later :S But atleast I haven't had to have a fusion so that is great! Just always trying to look on the bright side :))) Hope the exhaustion ease's up for you! Thanks for your post!

  • When you wash dishes try putting your foot when you open the cupboard underneath on the shelf there to ease up the pressure on your back. I hope you heal completely from your surgery. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • It's amazing how we all learn to adapt to our bodies. After my fusion, I had to learn some tricks to get out of bed and to stand up by myself -- beyond the "log roll", etc. I've also had to learn how to sleep at night and rest on the floor. They simply don't teach you everything upon discharge or even afterwards in PT.

    I'm very tall and I do try to help my wife out by doing the dishes, but it doesn't take long to start feeling a nagging ache in my back. I think I've learned to differentiate tired muscles from something more serious. Hopefully, what you're feeling are just tired muscles. When I feel like I've crossed the line, I simply stop and ask someone else to finish. Hopefully, you can do the same.

    Take Care!
  • Unfortunately what you're describing, the leaning forward, etc., is the classic response to stenosis. I hope in your case, Nicole, it is just muscles learning new positions, etc. after surgery. But the sad truth, is that our backs peak at about age twenty, and it is downhill from there on (at least if you live in a Western culture.)

    Someone on another thread mentioned a book that I also found very interesting: "8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back: Natural Posture Solutions for Pain in the Back, Neck, Shoulder, Hip, Knee, and Foot (Remember When It Didn't Hurt)" by Esther Gokhale. As a part of the book, the author explores various cultures around the world where spine problems are unheard of. There are lots of photos showing postures of these cultures engaged in everyday activities and then photos of "Western cultures" in similar positions for comparison. It is really fascinating.

    ***** Nicole, sorry your thread got somewhat hi-jacked.

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