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Newbie - Looking for Insight - Disc herniation with Modic Changes

Summerw79SSummerw79 Posts: 1
edited 01/27/2016 - 3:38 AM in New Member Introductions
Hello all, have been reading your forum and incredibly impressed with the kindness, advice and fellowship shared between people here. I'm nervous and scared of what could be in my future and hoping someone can make sense of my MRI results and provide advice on the best way forward.

There's not much of a story to tell, I've always had back pain, it's been a nuisance but manageable. I was a gymnast for fifteen years and transitioned to volleyball after a growth spurt and the realization I was not going to make it at the collegiate level. Volleyball became a passion and while I can't play right now I would like to again some day. The main reason though why I need to make sure I'm making the right decisions is so that I can support my teenage daughter in her endeavors and be a role model as she transitions to adulthood. Oh, and I definitely don't want her to think pain meds are normal and acceptable as a lifestyle.

Last Friday (1/25) I went grocery shopping very early in the morning, came home unloaded everything and logged on to my computer (I work from home). Sat there 30-35 minutes and when I stood up to I thought to myself...what the heck, why did that hurt so much? I shuffled my way around the house trying to walk it off, nothing helped so took some Aleve and went back to work. I got through the weekend but for every hour on my feet cooking, cleaning and doing chores I had to lay flat for two just to be able take a deep breath. Coughing, laughing and sneezing were like white hot pokers in my lower back and I felt this deep ache in my left butt cheek along with noticeable muscle spasms.

I get through to Monday (1/26), but look like a ship listing to one side when I walk, getting up from a sitting position is unbearable and crawling from place-to-place in my house was easier than walking. I finally went to the ER yesterday, spent eight hours and only got relief with (as in still in pain, but could take deep breath) with some IV administered drugs. Finally discharged after an MRI, but the ER doc was very vague other than saying I ruptured a disc, called my PCP and said I needed a surgical consultation.

The ER gave me a copy of the MRI and the envelope felt thick so I opened it to find a copy of the radiology report. Here's what it said;

At the L4-L5 disc space there is a herniated disc. There is disruption seen in the annulus fibrosis with herniated nucleus pulposus. Herniated disc protrudes posteriorly for approximately .51cm. The herniated disc material extends .91cm in the cephalocaudad direction. On the axial images it is central in location measuring.94cm in width. No lateralization is seen towards the neural exit foramen. Note is made of Modic type II or marrow edema seen on the inferior endplate of L4 and L5.

I really have no idea what this means and I don't want to go into a surgical consultation without some knowledge and/or context. I want to be an active participant in my own care. I'm in constant pain and unable to do the most basic of tasks so I know I have to do something, but I want that something to be with thought and consideration since I'm only 37 and have always lead an active lifestyle.

My main questions are these;

Is this really a surgical injury? Is there anyone out there with a similar diagnosis who can share their experience? Can someone explain the MRI meaning? What should I be doing now in order to get better faster? Are there any pitfalls I should look out for (like if a surgeon tells you "this" run, well limp out the door).

Any help would be greatly appreciated and I thank you in advance for taking the time to read this post and respond.

No one on the Spine-Health patient forums is medically qualified to provide any advice or recommendations on any diagnostic test. You need to discuss

this with your doctor, they are the only ones that can provide you with detailed information about you, the patient.

Liz, Spine-health Moderator



  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    Please take the time to read this post and refer to it when you have questions

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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
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