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Finally got my MRI report

HuggyHHuggy Posts: 321
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:47 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
After 20 years of chronic pain in my lower back, I started having neck, shoulder and arm symptoms recently. I thought maybe it was just temporary and would get better on its own, but my neurologist was concerned by some x-rays and nerve conduction tests he performed, and he then referred me to another doctor who ordered an MRI. I just got the report back today, and here is the 'impression' that came with it (I won't bother with all the stuff leading up to it, it's all very technical and would probably bore the pants off everyone):

MRI of C-Spine without contrast in axial and sagittal section:


1. Axial T2WI MR shows C4-5 disc protrusion compressing spinal cord with spinal stenosis

2. Axial T2WI MR shows C5-6 left-sided disc protrusion compressing spinal cord with severe stenosis

3. Axial T2*WI MR shows C4-5 and C5-6 bilateral foraminal degenerative change with severe stenosis

4. Axial T2WI MR shows C3-4 and C6-7 disc bulge compressing thecal sac

5. Axial T2*WI MR shows C3-4 left foraminal degenerative change with stenosis

6. A 3-mm area in spinal cord of C4, showing hyperintensity on T2WI

7. Axial T2*WI MR shows C6-7 bilateral foraminal degenerative change with mild stenosis

However, image findings may underestimate the degree of the spinal cord and nerve root compression. Please correlate with clinical manifestations and follow-up.

The orthopedist I saw today said it's more severe than he originally thought, and he told me I should see a neurosurgeon as soon as possible. He was worried about the degree of compression to the spinal cord and the nerve roots, and said I may need surgery to prevent any further damage and possible paralysis. It scared me a bit, to be honest - all these years I've had lumbar problems, I never thought my cervical spine would turn on me too... :-(


  • Sorry to hear about your severe stenosis c-spine issues. I hope you get your Surgeon appointment soon. Have you had symptoms for a long time or just recently?Prayers for you at this time. 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
  • Thanks for the kind words and thoughts, Charry! I have had radiating pain and tingling down my left arm for about two months. Before that I had intermittent neck pain, but I didn't think it was anything too serious. I actually mentioned this to my PM doc last year and asked if I should have an MRI to check that my neck was okay but he shrugged it off and said I needed to focus on my lower back.
  • My first fusion was to prevent paralysis too. Once the disk is on the cord, the conservative side of the treatments go out the door in many cases. I'm just glad that they found it with you before that sort of problem came up! Just try and stay calm and see what your doctors offer in ways of relief and remedy.

    I hear ya about feeling betrayed. I was always having problems (pain) with the neck and back, but my neck seemed to be the problem child. Now I have thoracic, and upper lumbar. I guess we can look at this a better way - at least we *know* about it, and can prevent more damage. :) Please keep us posted on what the plans are. Supportive *HUG* to ya!!!

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Thanks for the support (and hugs), Brenda! I'm just hoping the next couple of doctors I see will have ideas other than surgery. All this time I've been back and for between doctors advising for or against further lumbar surgery, I had no idea my neck was this bad. I'm trying to limit my time spent using the PC - I'm pretty sure that may have contributed to the damage. The doctors said I've lost the natural curve in the C-spine too. I hate that, as I've always been proud of having a good posture, as a former dancer/acrobat. Getting old sucks.
  • Yeppers Huggy, couldn't agree more! (G) 48 here. I hear ya about more surgery. Just try to not mentally cross that road until or unless that street sign comes up, okay? Due to years and years of flying helicopters wearing a helmet, many times with a night vision goggle set up on it, I lost the Lordosis in my neck a long time ago. :)

    I haven't always practiced "good" posture, but with me, 11 years of gymnastics, martial arts (only 3 years doing that), chasing bad guys and flying here and there for 30 years, hehehe....yeppers, getting old catches up to us! Understanding *HUG* for ya there! :)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Brenda, I'm not going to be able to read your posts in future without having a mental picture of you chasing bad guys in a helicopter - in night-vision, no less! I'm 46, so we're about the same age. I've had back problems since my early-mid 20s, when I injured myself in martial arts/dance class at university. I was really into the local (Taiwan) Chinese opera/dance scene back then (it's kind of a mix of Western style modern dance with martial arts moves and acrobatics). Gymnastics and martial arts, eh? You must miss being able to do all that stuff sometimes (I know I do). Oh well... it's just another of those things we have to learn to accept as chronic pain patients, I guess. I'm attempting to grow older gracefully (attempting being the key word)...

    Thanks again for your thoughts and advice!
  • Whoa, I'm really sorry to hear about your cervical problems. I do understand, as I've had both cervical and lumbar fusions. I also felt betrayed when my lumbar went bad after just recovery from my cervical fusion.

    Be sure to find the best surgeon you can and have 100% confidence in them. That's so important. I wish you much success on finding a good surgeon and surgery. There are many of us here that have both problems and understand how you're feeling.

    Take care and please continue to keep us posted.
  • My goodness... I am so sorry to read about these cervical problems.

    You have a lot of support here from others who have the terrible pain that goes along with cervical problems and many members who have had cervical surgeries.

    I wish you the very best in finding an excellent surgeon who will take very good care of you.

    I hope you can get an appointment real soon and I, too, will be saying prayers for you.

    Please let us know how your appointments go and try to take comfort in knowing you have many friends on here who truly care and want the very best outcome for you.

  • Thanks, Cath and Tammy, for the support and words of advice. It really helps knowing that there are people here who care and empathize.

    My next step is to find and talk with some neurosurgeons, and see what they think. I don't want to even think about surgery right now - I don't feel up to it, to be honest, with all the constant pain I already have from my lower back (which really isn't being managed well enough), and now this. I'm telling myself to just take it one step at at a time. Thanks again for being so supportive!
  • Oh, geez. What a hit. Nobody wants to see those kinds of words associated with their spine!

  • Thanks, happyHB! I must admit, looking back, I would have been okay with seeing the words 'compressing spinal canal' or 'mild/moderate stenosis' used a little more often. It gets worrying when you see the words 'severe' and 'compressing spinal cord' repeatedly, and the doctors keep mentioning 'paralysis' and the like. The doctor I saw last week couldn't speak English very well, and even though I was speaking Chinese to him he insisted on using his broken English, saying things like "if you suddenly to feel bladder no working, you come straight away to ER. We operate!" Sounds more ominous in a way, when it's said like that!
  • hehehe.. Yeppers, chasing em with helicopters, chasing em on the ground! As for my prior activities, I know that even if my neck and back weren't an issue, I wouldn't be doing dismounts off of the uneven bars now anyways! (G) I love the Olympics, as I live vicariously through the awesome gymnasts as they compete. That works for me!!

    The style of dance you use to do, sounds so graceful and pretty. Kind of like a 'dancing opera?' Some of that we would give up with age regardless, just bites when we are 'aged' in that activity not due to chronological age, but spine age! (G)

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
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