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MRI report indicates Degenerative disc disease. What to do?


My mother is suffering low back pain for several years. The recent MRI report is as below:

MRI Protocol:

Multiplanar images using multiple pulse sequences.
Clinical Information:
Low back pain with radiate to left lower limb for 6 months. Tingling and numbness of left lower limb.

The lumbar lordosis is maintained. Mild lumbar scoliosis is seen.
There is forward displacement of L5 vertebra over Si.
Normal vertebral height is noted.
The discs show normal signal intensity at L4-5 and L5-S1 level show hypointensity on T2 weighted images,
due to disc desiccation.
Normal marrow signal intensity is seen.
The visualized part of the cord shows normal signal characteristics.
The imaged pre and paravertebral soft tissue appear normal.
At L2-3 and L3-4 levels: Mild disc bulges are causing mild thecal sac indentations and mild neural foraminal narrowing.
At L4-5 and L5-Sl levels: Disc height is slightly reduced at L4-5 level. Central and paracentral disc protrusions and mild facet / flaval hypertrophy are causing thecal sac indentations and neural foraminal stenosis.

• Degenerative disc disease at L4-5 and L5-Sl levels.
• Grade-I anterolisthesis of L5 vertebra.
• IA-5 and L5-Sl levels Spinal canal and neural foraminal stenosis due to central and paracentral disc protrusions and mild facet / flaval hypertrophy.
• L2-3 and L3-4 levels Mild thecal sac indentations and mild neural foraniinal narrowing due to mild disc bulges.

The doctor have suggested for surgery. Do my mom really need surgery or have any other alternative for cure and bypass the surgical hazards.

I shall be grateful, if anybody please share his/her expertise.



  • I had Degenerative disc disease at the age of 29 (have had problems with my back since the age of 13). I was back and forth to any doctor or emergency room that would take me serious and not just shoot me up with a pain killer and send me home. After a year of this (and no longer able to walk or sit without pain and having to use a cane) I finally got an appointment with a top surgeron. He took one look at me and informed my husband that he would have to go home and get a bag ready for me, he was signing me into the hospital immediately. Unbeknownest to me, the two disc's were cutting through the siactic nerve and if not taken care of immediatly, I would loose the ablility to walk. The surgery was scheduled for the next day, the day after that I was walking the halls at the hospital, the next day the stairs. 3 days later I was on my way home. Although it does take a bit to recover, more so from the stiffness and my siatica being cut off for a year. I'im now 50 and have had no problems with the back, aside from the soreness or stiffness after doing way to much work. My dad at the age of 70 had surgery for the same as me and again he has had no problems with his back afterwards. So in my opinion it would be worth, your mom, having the surgery, The alternative to that is it just getting progressively worse and at her age, you want her to be pain free and somewhat independant. But I would deffinatly shop around for the best surgeon. Good luck to her :)
  • to have surgery or not, is one that must be made with the surgeon and the patient/family members . The usual protocal is similar to this outline- however, depending on the findings of any imaging studies and the exam of the doctor, some steps may be skipped altogether. http://www.spine-health.com/forum/pain/chronic-pain/chronic-pain-treatment-step-step
    The one thing that I strongly recommend is that if the recommendation for surgery is made, then it is always wise to consult with at least one or two more surgeons, preferably an ortho and a neuro surgeon, board certified in spine surgery to see if they agree with the original surgeons recommendations. That way, if there are other options you can discuss them with the surgeon and see why he/she may recommend one option over another and if they agree with the surgery being needed, the type of surgery may change from surgeon to surgeon, and that gives you other options and opinions.
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