MRI of the lumbar spine February 27, 2012 at 2123.
History: Back pain.
Technique: Sagittal T2, sagittal T1, sagittal STIR, axial T2, axial
T1, and coronal T2 images of the lumbar spine were acquired.
Findings: The visualized retroperitoneal structures appear
unremarkable. There is no significant scoliotic curvature. The conus
terminates at L1. Signal within the distal spinal cord is
unremarkable. The lumbar vertebral bodies are normally aligned. There
is loss of disc space signal at L3-L4 and L4-L5 suggestive of disc
degeneration. Marrow signal on the STIR sequence is unremarkable.
At L2-L3 there is no focal herniation, central canal stenosis, or
At L3-L4 there is a right paracentral disc protrusion without central
canal stenosis. There may be mild right lateral recess narrowing. No
foraminal impingement is present.
At L4-L5 there is a central disc herniation indenting the ventral
thecal sac without resulting in significant central canal compromise
or lateral recess stenosis. No foraminal impingement is present.
At L5-S1 there is no focal herniation, central canal stenosis, or
Impression: Small disc protrusions at L3-L4 and L4-L5 as described
without central canal stenosis or evidence of nerve root impingement
Anytime the disc, the cushion that goes between each vertebral boney structure, goes and protrudes out of place, which is sort of a common finding in people especially as they get older, and if the disc pushes on structures near it, it can really hurt. The report says your disc protrusion between L3 and L4 may be causing a narrowing of one of the areas where some nerves and other structures are, and thus you'll have pain. Also, discs that aren't doing their job properly because they are "injured," this causes the boney parts of the spine to sort of lean and move less smoothly than before, and this pulls on muscles and ligaments and so forth that make up the spine, and thus more pain.
Your MRI sounds a lot like mine. TO ME, I look at just regular X-rays of my back and for the life of me I cannot understand how come I can run my thumb along my lumbar spine, and feel my lumbar bones bump waaaay out, and yet nothing is in the pictures about this. I guess for me it's arthritic changes that make me bumpy. So, to me, while the MRI is a tool, it is not the final say in what's going on with your back.
I can also tell you that if you get muscle spasms, which would be pretty typical in someone like you, that can hurt just as much as if someone stuck a knife in your back. I have to get massages, I have to take drugs, I do physical therapy exercises, wear a back brace, and so on, and dang, it still hurts. Hope your doc will address your pain issues, and please, don't rely on what I've said as any sort of correct analysis of what a radiologist report says. I am not an expert. I just know what a hurt back feels like and what MRI reports sound like.
If you would, look up the terms "spine lateral recess narrowing" on your home page in the search rectangle, and see if you can find a description of that and what it means, and also "disc bulge symptoms" to see how that sort of thing can affect a person. I think your back is better than some, at least things are still pretty well lined up and there's no nerve ROOT impingement (that's the BIG nerve that comes out from the spinal cord thru the bones), and your spinal cord is apparently not in danger. You basically have some bulging discs that are making your back hurt and making it a little unstable.
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