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Help understanding Cervical Spine MRI report

Allen852AAllen852 Posts: 1
edited 10/10/2014 - 7:26 AM in Neck Pain: Cervical
I'm new to the forum and I had just recently had an MRI of the Cervical Spine and am curious as to what it is actually saying and if it can account for my neck, shoulder and arm pain that I have.

Here are the results of the MRI.


The alignment of the cervical vertebrae appears within normal limits. The vertebral body heights are reeserved. There is diffuse disc desiccation and height loss. No abnormal marrow signal is identified.
The cervicomedullary junction appears normal. The visualized portions of the posterior fossa contents are grossly unremarkable in appearance. The caliber and course at the cervical spinal cord appears normal. No abnormal signal is seen arising from the cervical cord. No intrathecal abnormality is identified.

C2-C3. No significant disc herniation, neural foraminal narrowing, or spinal canal stenosis.

C3-C4: Mild jposterior disc spur complex resulting in effacement of the ventral thecal sac and mild left neuroforaminal narrowing.

C4-C5: Mild posterior disc spur complex resulting in effacement of the epidural fat and mild left neuroforaminal narrowing.

C5-C6: Disc spur complex resulting in mild central canal stenosis and mild to moderate bilateral neuroforaminal narrowing.

C6-C7: Posterior disc spur complex without significant neuroforminal narrowing or spinal canal stenosis.

C7-T1: Posterior disc spur complex without significant neuroforminal narrowing or spinal canal stenosis.

The visualized portions of the soft tissues of the neck and parotid glands appear normal. No abnormality is seen within the visualized portions of the lung apices.

Mild diffuse degenerative disc disease, most notable at C5-C6, resulting in mild relative central canal stenosis and mild to moderate bilateral neuroforaminal narrowing.

Any help with what the results mean and if they relate to my neck, shoulder and arm pain. The arm pain radiates down both arms and has been very uncomfortable to live with now. My hands and fingers feel numb as well.



  • LizLiz Posts: 9,704
    edited 10/10/2014 - 6:11 AM

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • It appears that you have mild arthritis of your cervical spine. The bone spurs form as a result of degenerative disc disease, which occurs in like 90% of people over 50 years old. There isn't any indication of trauma or disc hernias. Depending on your age, this might even be considered a "normal" cervical spine.

    While it does report foraminal narrowing, that by itself would not necessarily cause pain or your other symptoms unless there is compression of the nerve roots that exit the spinal cord. Maybe the C5/C6 disc is herniated and together with the spur, they are pressing on a nerve root or causing it to become inflamed. That might cause your symptoms. If it is an inflammation and not compression, then NSAIDs should work well and you could recover quickly - though it might recur at another time.

    By the way, when they say "moderate" that usually means that it is significant. When they say "severe", then that means you are in serious trouble.

    You need your doctor to interpret these results and to also review the actual images to determine if the report left out anything. It is best done by a neurosurgeon. They are usually very experienced with cervical MRIs. You might also need additional diagnostic tests like a Nerve Conduction Study and EMG. These test can tell if you have problems with the nerves in your arms and can identify which nerves are not working correctly or might be causing you pain. They are objective diagnostic tests that measure how well electrical signals are moving through the nerves and also if there are abnormal signals in the nerves. They might also reveal if your pain is actually from your cervical or nerve issues or if it might be from come other problem. Your symptoms don't seem to match up with the mild problems in the report so maybe the report is not accurate. Other Cervical MRI results that I have seen (including 3 of my own) specifically stated if there was a disc herniation and provided the size of it and how it was positioned. Those reports also mentioned how the hernias or bone spurs were affecting or compressing the spinal nerves that exit through the "foraminal" openings. The term "disc spur complex" is very vague. You need a better place to get an MRI.
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