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New and looking for explanations in layman terms

badgrrrlbbadgrrrl Posts: 6
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:58 AM in New Member Introductions
Hello Everyone! I am a 41yr old female who has suffered back pain since i was 16, severe muscle spasms,bursitis in right shoulder and now finally a doctor who cares and doesn't tell me to buck up and deal with it has figured out i have fibromyalgia as well, sent me to spine surgeon who had mri's done. Neither had really said what causes my pain but that i need pain management not surgery. reading mri reports has me confused as heck. so here goes and any help is greatly appreciated because im ready to blow a gasket...
prominence of epidural fat at L5 and S1
partially degenerated disc at T7-T8 w/about 2-3mm central disc protrusion not compromising canal
3mm central and left parasagittal protrusion at T10-T11, no compromise canal
2 mm spurs left parasagittal at T11-T12
3 mm broad based central protrusion at 5-C6
3 mm central and slightly left parasagittal protrusion at C6-C7 (minimal disc disease process at C5-C6 & C6-C7)
minimal disc disease process at T7-T8 & T10-T11 also minute spurring T11-T12

Again thank you for help. I know I'm not crazy and my pain is real but this stuff makes me think i am crazy because it keeps saying minimal. le sigh.


  • Hi and welcome. If dr who ordered your mri could not see anything that stands out that he feels needs surgery then thats all he can do for now and just see if pain management helps any,

    We cant read your mri for you because we dont have any medical back ground,
    Pain dr can help do further testings with injections to see what level might be the pain generator in your spine,

    Any time its not obvious on the mri it gets a litle more complicated to realy know what is the cause, Most mri will show some form of issues with a lot of people but its not to the point its something they need to do surgery on,

    They know if they do surgery on a person and they realy did not need to have it done can very easy make a person much much worse and have all kinds of compications in the future,

    Some spine conditions just simply cant be fixed with surgery so it becomes an endless pain treatment and life adjustment,

    Its very seldom in a persons head just because they cant see it on an mri or just because they cant find it and fix it, Spine is very complicated with so many nerves and so many diferent things can cause pain issues its not as simple as most would think,

    If the spine is stable and they dont see anything serious enough going on to where it can cause serious damage to any compressed nerves posibly then surgery in there view is not going to help anything,

    Back pain is the numner 1 reason most lose time from work or simply cant no longer work, Many times the best treatment is simply rule out anything serious going on and posibly get injection to help get rid of some inflammarion and do pt and keep adjusring to the condition wirh either pain medicarions along with exercise and posibly vitamin suplements if needed,

    Hope this helps. Best wishes,
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • Sometimes MRIs don't show everything. My MRI report said "small" as well and when the surgeon opened me up he said it was huge! That was such a good feeling after the surgery to hear that!
    ACDF C4-5 June 23rd, 2011

    Another surgery in the near future. I am 26 years old.

    Current Meds- Norco 7.5/325, Cymbalta 60mg, Gabapentin, Adderall 20mg
  • thanks.seriously i'd rather be giving birth to my kids all over again than feel this much pain daily.
  • I'm sure that your attending Physician/Surgeon has already told you this, but what shows-up as being "small" right now on the MRI is in no way insignificant because...what starts out as small can easily become "moderate" and then "large" if corrective measures aren't taken.

    This has happened to me not only once but twice, both times leading to fusion surgeries. In the first instance, a cracked vertebrae in my Lumbar Spine worked its way out of place and needed to be repaired and secondly, a bulging disc in my Cervical Spine worsened with PT and Chiropractic which precipitated surgery in the end.

    As for pain caused by "small" issues, ANY changes in disc alignment can impinge upon nerves and the spinal cord itself and nerve compromise equates to pain and other associated symptoms (weakness in limbs, cramping, etc. Having said that, your Doc should be aware that the symptoms you report are legit and will prescribe treatment accordingly. My advice, follow their instructions and orders to the T and be up-front about how you're feeling as time goes by...as they rely on that feedback to make determinations going forward.

    Best wishes to you and keep your chin-up, better tomorrows are always just a day away!

  • thank you Jeff. am always up front with my pain levels etc, i never ever take meds before a doc appt so that they can see exactly how i am hurting, dont want to mask anything. am adjusting and taking it easy like she says its just really hard to keep saying "no" i cant today i hurt too much blahblah.
  • Sounds like you have a good and well thought out plan in-place and that's crucial if you're interested in a positive outcome. The patient/doctor relationship has to be built on trust and understanding or forget it, either you, your Doctor or both are going to end-up unhappy with the other in the end.

    It's hard not to push yourself past that "I just cant point" I know, and if you're like me then you've been perhaps "testing" yourself to see just what your limitations are...not necessarily staying within acceptable boundaries in the process! :) However, it's only human nature to do just that and Doc's know full well that patients routinely do...I always just let him know what I've tried to do and what the result was and he's been appreciative of it, helping him to make a more accurate diagnosis and treatment decisions.

    Just be good to yourself and don't do anything that would cause further harm, and expect that your Doc is going to "take care of you" in every regard. It's a sad truth but we do get accustomed to being in constant pain, meds can take the edge off for awhile but it still exists to one degree or another. The idea (and the hard part) is to not let it change who we are as people, because it sure can affect every fiber of our being.


  • Just to add...the MRI's can be deceiving. I had an MRI done which showed "moderate" disc protrusions indenting the thecal sac at T8-9 and T9-10. I ended up having a discectomy. When I woke up from the surgery, my NS said that the one at T9-10 was much larger than he expected. So those "miminal" disc issues may be larger than they actually appear...similar to the warning on the passenger side mirror! lol! Sorry, I couldn't resist.

    I agree with finding a good PM doc and perhaps trying PT. Even if they DID find something noteworthy on the MRI, unless it were an emergent situation, they would recommend a good 3-6 months of conservative treatment first, prior to talking about surgical intervention.
  • thanks for the backup on that idea. im sure that they are larger than they appear, i like the analogy of the side mirrors on vehicles.
  • badgrrrl:

    Me too! I had a few MRI's done, and they didn't show anything too bad (osteophytes, small protrusions). They put different dx's on my checkout sheets from neuropathy to fibro. One neuro finally told me if I found one of the upright MRI's, that might show something because I'd always feel better if I laid down. It didn't make much sense to take "pictures" of the position that relieved my symptoms! I just had an upright MRI done last month (costs the same, btw), takes better pictures and it showed a LOT more..but probably still not the full problem.

    Also, the neuro who did my lumbar fusion really did it almost as exploratory, there was scar tissue from a previous discectomy. It was one of the worse surgeries they'd ever done in the end. A lot of fragments hidden in the scar tissue that were cutting my nerves.

    This is why it's called the "practice" of medicine..they don't know everything and even the tools aren't perfect.

    Best of luck, try PM and PT before resorting to surgery, if you can.
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