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Confused - Bone spurs??

Amanda S YanisAAmanda S Yanis Posts: 124
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:33 AM in Lower Back Pain
So I had an MRI done back in February (those results are in my signature). And I just had a CT scan done last Friday. My doctor called me yesterday and told me that I have bone spurs and loss of disc in L5-S1, and a bulging disc in L4 L5. She is also referring me to a neurosurgeon. What does this mean?? How is the CT scan showing something differant from the MRI? And why am I in more pain now than I was before??


  • its unfortunate that you are in more pain. the size of the disk bulging doesnt necessarily relate to the pain you feel. sometimes larger bulges give less pain than smaller ones. ct scans and mris give the dr different kinds of info with which to make a decision regarding your treatment. a neurosurgeon i once used told me he liked to get ct scans, myelograms and mris in order to get the complete picture of the problem. WE HERE AT SH DO NOT HAVE THE EXPERTISE TO GO INTO DETAIL ON your tests. you will have to go over this with the neurosurgeon who is the only person who can accurately analyze your problem.
    i sure hope he has a solution to fix you up....good luck....pete
  • The findings of the CT scan do not contraindicate the findings of the Feb. MRI. MRIs do not show bone as well as an X-ray type image, so it is possible the bone spurs were there before and were just not mentioned. It is also possible that they have grown during the interim to the point that the radiologist remarked upon them.

    Is the current doctor a primary care doctor or family doctor -- something other than a spine specialist? I would assume she is referring you because she feels your problems are a bit more complicated and will require more treatment than she is comfortable providing.

    Do not panic because you heard the word "surgeon." Spinal specialists, be they neurosurgeons or orthopedic spinal surgeons, are trained to diagnose and treat conditions of the back and spine. They will always offer conservative treatments first, and surgery will be recommended as a last option.

    It is good that your doctor referred you to a specialist when she did. You can waste a lot of valuable time "waiting and seeing what develops" when the spinal specialist can get you into a treatment that may solve your problems before they become complex.

    I imagine you are in more pain now because you have some additional changes that are compressing a nerve. All the things mentioned in the reports are issues that take up space in the "openings" where the nerves are supposed to pass freely. The herniated disc at L4-5 is perhaps more of a problem than it was in Feb.
    The bone spurs may be growing into the central canal space or a foramina, both situations can cause nerve compression, just as can any disc deterioration.

    When you see the neurosurgeon, s/he can explain these reports to you and suggestion a treatment plan to help with the pain.
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  • So I got the actual copy of the CT scan and I'm even more confused.

    At L4-L5 there is a central disc protrusion producing indentation of the anterior aspect of the thecal sac. There is narrowing of the AP spinal canal diameter at this level. The approximate AP measurement of this disc bulge is 7 mm with a transverse diameter at its base of 1.4 cm.

    At L5-S1 prominent posterior osteophyte.

    I know that nobody here can give me medical advice, but can somebody just explain to me what this means. Am I worse than before??
  • I've been searching online, and I think I kinda understand what this means. I dont' know if 7 mm is big or small though. From my understand it is the bulging disc that may be pressing on a nerve somewhere, and the bone spurs are really not a problem?

    I guess what really confuses me is that I see people on here all the time saying the have degenerative disc disease, or other things, and I have no idea what is wrong with me. Saying I have a bulging disc just makes it sound like nothing. I am supposed to go back to work soon, and I need to find out what to tell them, because there is no way I can go back to standing for 5-6 hours straight.

    Oh and I have an app with the NS on August 17. But I'm thinking I may need to reschedule because I have three kids in school and the appt. is at 8:30 am in a town atlest an hour away. Oh and school starts at 8!
  • your going to drive yourself crazy trying to analyze these tests. most gp docs would have trouble. there are so many things to consider that you have to be a spinal surgeon to really understand them.
    7mm is about 3/8 in. i think that might cause pain if its touching nerves. also the fluid inside the disk is very irritating to nerves and when it hits nerves all hell breaks loose. sometimes the smallest bulge or herniation can cause lots of pain. one measurement is how it feels and i'm sure you know you have the pain. so hang in there and i hope your appointment goes well.....pete
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