552681 tn?1215132532

Cervical Disc Bulges at C3-4, C4-5,C5-6 and C6-7

I have been a passive, yet loyal reader of this forum for awhile and decided today is the day that I post my question. I have learned much from others' questions, but I do have issues that I haven't found addressed so far. I am asking for help and guidance...

In May 2008, I experienced right side numbness in my arm while driving home from work. The numbness continued to the point that I lost use of the arm and it extended down into my right foot and leg and eventually into the right side of my face. Thinking that I was experiencing a stroke, my primary MD transferred me to a larger hospital where I underwent an MRI of my Head and Carotid U/S, and nothing was found at that time that could explain what was happening to me. My symptoms seemed to come and go without explanation, and I returned to my primary MD still seeking answers in Sept. 2008, and she ordered an MRI of my Cervical Spine.

This is  the results of my MRI:

C2-3: No disc bulge or protrustion.
C3-4: Mild diffuse bulge is present. No focal protrusion is seen.
C4-5: Mild diffuse bulge is present. There is mild flattening of the anterior aspect of the thecal sac. There is mild narrowing of the neural foramina bilaterally.
C5-6: Mild broad-based left posterolaterally disc protrusion is present. There is mild compromise of the left lateral recess.
C6-7: Mild broad-based right paracentral disc protrusion is present. There is minimal compromise of the right lateral recess;


This MRI report was six months ago, and my primary MD felt that this was due to some type of trauma that I may have experienced as a young child that is now causing me problems, I am 43, and recalled an incident of being hit in the back of my head with a bat while participating in softball. At the time of this diagnosis,I elected to just wait and deal with the symptoms as they arise.

I have been experiencing increasing symptoms for the past month or so, with increasing fatigue and migraines, then last week while sleeping, I felt an odd feeling of a "squishiness" in the back of my neck, then experienced the feeling of some liquid running down my neck, I was lying on my side at the time. Since this occurrence, I have been in constant pain and discomfort with my neck and my head feels so "heavy" and I am just exhausted most of the time. I was prescribed Elavil to help me sleep, but I experienced so much grogginess with it the next day, I only take it when I have to. Lately though, with the help of Tylenol PM, I am able to rest some, but within an hour of rising, those recurring symptoms of my head feeling heavy and pain in my neck now extend into my upper back through to my mid-chest. I also experience pain under my right arm and I have this feeling of a stick or poker-like pain in my right armpit.

I have been referred to a neurosurgeon and will be seeing him for the first time on March 24th. Does anyone have any experience with the above symptoms, and what would be your opinion about what I might be expecting to hear from the neurosurgeon? I am wondering about PT or epidural injections, or will he recommend surgery? The one thing I keep reading is the recommendation to wait on surgery until the last resort, and I can understand this, yet I am in pain now most of the time. How much more must I endure before I will know that it is "time"? Any and all opinions would be welcome right now!

37 Responses
Avatar universal
Welcome to the Back and Neck Community.  Members are here to provide assistance and support to individuals experiencing symptoms related to possible abnormal conditions of the cervical and/or lumbar spine.  Advice given is non-professional and is based primarily on personal experiences.  Please post on the Expert Forum if additional medical advice is needed and one of the medical doctors will assist as appropriate.

I am sorry to hear of your continued discomfort.  Neck pain and associated symptoms such as head heaviness/headache can be very disabling.
Your MRI was done approximately six months ago and the clinical findings reported can be directly related to your present symptoms.  Since your MRI, it is possible that there have been interval changes which could correspond to the increased intensity of your symptoms.
The areas of concern are C4-5: protrusion of disc causing mild stenosis (narrowing) of the spinal canal (through which the spinal cord travels)
C5-C6: two disc protrusions located on right and left sides which are causing compromise of the area where the nerve roots (from the spinal cord to your extremities)
travel.  C6-7 has a broad based disc protrusion which shows mild compromise on the right side.
When there is compromise (pinching) of the nerve roots or stenosis (narrowing) of the spinal canal and neural foramina (area through which the nerve roots travel), it will result in symptoms in the body parts served by those nerves.  The result is the ;neck pain, upper mid back pain and headaches.
Although these symptoms may be connected to the trauma you experienced earlier, it has probably progressed through the wear and tear of the spine as we age.
The referral to the neurosurgeon is appropriate as he can review the results of your MRI in greater detail and explore your treatment options.  Surgery is not always indicated, and conservative treatment is sometimes helpful to alleviate the primary symptoms.
Physiotherapy, anti-inflammatory medication and possible epidural steroid injections have proven helpful to some.  Surgery is done when conservative treatment has failed to produce adequate pain relief and if the nerves are compromised to the point of risking increased damage which could result in permanent residuals even if surgery is done.
The decision to have surgery is very personal and can only be evaluated based on the recommendations of the neurosurgeon and your current status and changes in your quality of life.  You also have the option of seeking a second opinion prior to consenting to surgical intervention.
I am three weeks postop anterior cervical discectomy and fusion C4-C7 due to extensive disc degeneration, stenosis and multiple disc herniations putting pressure and contact on my spinal nerves and the spinal cord itself.  Fusion was my only real alternative due to the extent of damage.
My surgery was a complete success and the majority of my symptoms were gone within 3hrs of the operation.  My postop recovery is continuing to progress well.
Not everyone has similar results and the decision for surgery needs to be evaluated with all the other options offered.
Please post back after your neurosurgery appt and let us know of your progress and any additional questions/concerns you may have.
Best wishes ----

Avatar universal
I have wedging from T2 to T9 and a wedge fracture at T6, disc protrusion C3/4 and have been in pain since December 2006  have had physiotherapy from highly qualified physcians. Numbness in both arms and fingers is common. I have had all scans and MRI's but no succes in helping me living a comfortable life. I am only 27 and have a young family, Is surgery and option?
Avatar universal
On October 28, 2008, I fell on concrete on my job and hit my head, neck shoulders on the refrigerator in our community center and landed on my left hip.  I just got an MRI which  c3-c4 broad-based disc bulge, c4-c5 right paracentral disc protrustion and proliferative cahnge.  The foramina are patent.  C7-T1 there is a mild bulge.  There is limitation due to motion artifact.  Please explain.  I take medication which makes me drowsey and I can not take it at work only in the evenings.  Is my job responsible - I was told that this was pre-existant, but I never had a problem before the fall.  I have had one set of injections in my neck and shoulder and in my hip, but it yet hurts.  I am a secretary and at my computer 75% of the day as well
Avatar universal
Dear sir / Madam

My father was experiencing a neck pain and numbness in his right arm,wrist and fingers without any pain in the area.the MRI report shows :
1) Mild Posterocentral disc protrusion at C3/4 and C4/5 Levels indenting the thecal sac.

2) Broad based posterior disc bulge at C5 /6 level which along wih bordering osteophytes and hypertrophy is causing canal narrowing indenting the thecal sac and bilateral exiting nerve roots.

Please tell me what it means and what will be the treatment for the same.can it be cured with medicines or will it need surgery? can this problem increase impacting the other limbs or part of the body......
Avatar universal
I had a car accident in 2009 that left me with mild  bulging disc in my neck and back c3 c4 c5 c6 and c7 L4 L5 Know treatment for about six month now am in pain all the time i had two month of PT and injection nothing working.  How do you heal from bulging disc.
Avatar universal
I too have these same symptons, It started november 26 2010 I have sence seen several doctors who have me on a physical therapy session twice a week. It is only helping the stiffness I get from having the c3-c4-c5-c6 buldging. I have also had several other areas ache and when pressure is applied to the area by the therapist I get numbness in my right leg. As of now I am still in limbo as to what is going to fix this problem. I must say being 26 years old and feeling helpless(as I cant lift anything that is heavier then a gallon of milk with out having pain and numbness) is starting to get rather annoying.
Avatar universal
Yes, I have the same issue only mine is complicated with a Harrington rod that extends from C6 threw T12. The pain is unbearable and it feels like a million bee stings, when they sting and that initial pain zap only it never stops or goes away. It varies in degrees like I have been awake and in pain (with pain medications on board) for 4 days and nights. I too am having an appointment with neurosurgeon I swore I would never allow them to cut me open again. I am beyond ready. I too am 43 and have a lot I still would like to do. This has been on going for me since April of 08. I am so done nothing helps at this point. I was diagnosed with DD in April of 08 and but Jan of 12 my disc are shot so mine seems to be very progressive. If I were you and they offered surgery I would take it. I have heard really good thing compared to even 4 yrs ago.Mine are all going to the right and my left side is the one affected. but the symptoms are almost identical. You are not alone.
Avatar universal
I have c4-c5,c5-c6 and c6-c7 disc show diffuse posterior bulge with posterior central disc protrusion causing ventral thecal sac indentation,secondary canal stenosis and bilateral nerve root compression.

dr.recommented to truction in physiotherapy

is this right way,(or) we have to go for surgery
Avatar universal
I too am suffering from the same symptons that you are experiencing. I have had one epidural steroid shot with only moderate relief and have an appointment with a neurosurgon in November 2012. The numbness of my fingers on the right hand and the headaches are sometimes hard to handle. I was diagnosed with severe stenosis c6/7 and moderate stenosis at c5/6 this was from the first MRI done in 2011 I have had a second one done last week  and it showed buldged disc @ c3/4, c5/6, c6/7 with midline seperation. I was also told that I do not have the correct cervial cure alienment, meaning my neck is almost straight rather than curved. This problem effects my work at times, since I am required to wear a hard hat all the time. The extra weight on top of my head makes the pain alot worse.
Avatar universal
hi all,I want to know whats the condition for this result of MRI scan:

Posterior central and bilateral paracentral disc extrusion along with bilateral faceto ligamental hypertrophy at L3-4, L4-5 and L5-S1 levels causing significant impression on thecal sac and bilateral lateral recess nerve roots and compromising bilateral neural foramen.

Diffuse Annular Disc bulge at L2-3 level causing mild impression on thecal sac.

Severe degenerative spondylotic changes.

Avatar universal
I have so many symptoms some like yours and others..I don't know where to start. I have had migraines that go from my head down my L side to my big toe. I saw a neurologist and she confirmed it was indeed migraines, I was always skeptical because I always think the worst which to me would be a stroke. I then out of the blue and never an explanation starting have seizures so I do continue with the neurologist. Next came different pain like a freezing pain that could go into side head, jaw, neck, back, arm which really wasn't diagnosed. I have been diagnosed with carpral tunnel syndrome in both hands and of course my job is a secretary. I now have been diagnosed with C5 and C6 bulging discs and am having a epidural shot next week. I am skeptical. In the meantime of all of this I have been diagnosed with Lupus, as migraines and seizures can be symptoms of it. I have so many diagnoses all intertwined and I am having a hard time knowing where to start to deal with it all. I'm sick of complaining and in pain and taking so much medicine at my age, I'm only 48. Can anyone relate? have advice?
Avatar universal
I have mild buldgin c3-c4 basically i woke up 1 morning with neck pain which i thought was a stiff neck from sleeping funny but after 6 weeks of constant neck pain & unbearable headaches i got it looked into , my doc gave me 3 different courses of anti inflams which did not work , ive also been on every pain killer going which have not helped either , ive recently had an mri which has shown buldging disc , my only concern is the serious eye & face pain ive been having , my doc has me taking lyrica 25mg 3 times day for nerve pain which also dont seem to be helping , i have app to see nurosurgeon in Aug 2013 which will be exactly 1 yr since 1st symptoms , its driving me mad :)
Avatar universal
seeing all these people may me cry noing im not alone this message is to any DR looking to study and fine out a cure to help other people like my self in pain i to feel at time just taking my head off im tierd and i have try every thing pain management , chiropractic, physical therapy, pool therapy, message therapy, and 8 shot and much more except  fusion surgery disc replacement  sill the same . im willing to give my life to be study on base on cervical spine spondylosis prominent at C3-4 with a broad-based central disc protrusion ,subsequent minimal central canal stenosis C4-5, C5-6, C6-7,with broad-based central disc protrusion with subsequent mild to moderate right foraminal narrowing with mild left neural foraminal narrowing and minimal central canal stenosis /MRI.8/2012 AND 2/2013. no matter what happen to my self Iam will to sign my life  
329165 tn?1515471990
Hi there,

I had a neck fusion done during 2011 due to spondylosis at C5, 6 and 7 level.  

I had a neck injury (fell backwards and split my head open while ice skating) 20 years ago.  We applied for Australian Visa's and Visa-doc send me for a MRI and that lead to me having the operation.

Now, 2 years post-op I can not imagine that I was in pain for almost 7 years prior to getting the surgery done!  If I had known what difference the fusion would have made in my life, I would have done it earlier!

If you are a surgical candidate you should really consider getting it done.
Avatar universal
I have the same symptoms with the numbness, it does get frustrating at time..I went to the hospital 3 times thinking I was having a stroke. It is a very sacry feeling. I sleep upright on the couch when I am having an episode due to the dizziness. I dont understand the dizziness though, it just happens whenever and I am so afraid of driving or even going to work. Has anyone applied or thouhgt of applying for disability?
1326416 tn?1370927001
THIS IS AN OLD POST  from 2009!!! I hope he is doing better. I wish we could find out. This happens a lot on this site. I think it still benefits people though, as it could be similar to other peoples symptoms, etc.....
Avatar universal
Moderately large left paracentral disc herniation at c5/6 compromisation to c7 nerve root.

I have heavy pressure on my head. 1 year has past  . what to I do?
Avatar universal
I  am a 38 yr old female who took a fall 3 years ago going up stairs - fell at abt the 3rd of 4th step, twisted and turned in ways unimaginable. Since my fall, my back has not been the same and continues to get worse, however- MD's have not been able to provide me with much of a diagnosis. However, experience pain all over the back, lower back and sacral - at times I have experienced numbness on the right side.

Here is my MRI results - please tell me your thoughts -
-non specific straightening of the cervical lordosis without subluxation.
- C4/C5: small cenral disc herniation, protrusion type is mild central canal narrowing or neural foramnina bilaterally patent.
- C5/C6: There is a diffuse disk bulge. No significant central canal or neural foraminal narrowing.
C6/C7: Small central disc herniation, protrusion type of mild central canal narrowoing and neural foramina bilaterally patent.

Avatar universal
I have been having increasing pain in all parts of my body due to trauma to my neck. I received the report without doctor recommendations which is stressing me out so bad... My comment/question is: what would be recommended for an impression on a MRI report such as this:
1. Superiorly oriented right central disc extrusion at C6-7 without significant mass
2. Left central protrusion with annular tear at C5-6 without significant mass effect
3. Small right central protrusion at C4-5 without significant mass effect
Avatar universal
I recently started getting neck pain after going to the gym one day. I'm not sure if it's pre-existing, my doctor questioned if I had prior accidents, which I have not? I have C5-6 minor uncovertable hypertrophy without stenosis, C6-7 3 mm broad  posterior protrusion noted. Subligamentous location and causes a mild deformity upon the contour of the spinal canal, though without spinal stenosis. Canal is 11 mm ante posterior...whatever the hell this all means, my left side is in constant pain. I feel pain from my neck, to my back and shoulders and radiating pain at my elbow with tingling in my index, now all fingers. My left side goes numb and feels like a leg that fell asleep to wake up to painful tingling. I got the runarounds for some time, probably due to HMO insurance BS. First PT, then Neurologist, then after three months of suffering an MRI, just on my neck. Now they want to do shots into the C6-7. Dr said no surgeon would do the procedure unless it got worse (or if I jump through a ton of hoops first). Not sure what to do but not to be punny, but I feel your pain...everyone's pain. Wish you guys the best.
Avatar universal
Hi there
Thiis is my first post I have slight. Curvurture of the spine in mid thoracic region and depression of mid thorax scince I was 15 as a large piece of lead fell on me from a building didn't really have much trouble until I had my second child 7years later after I coughed and pain .after visiting a chiropractor years down the line for my back problem I now have a chronic neck problem which includes/
C3/c4 degenerative disk with slight loss of hydration &disk height also a small broad based postero left lateral disk prolapse causing mild canal and left forminal stenosis & loss of Csf space ,

C4/c5 mildly degenerative disk with small posterior disk protrusion

C5/c6 annular bulge

C6/c7 small right paracentral disk prolapse which maybe impinging on a nerve root in lateral recess .

I am so terrified been in constant pain for 14 months with NECk &back waiting to see a neck specialist ,I get blurred vision tinnitus balance problems and sometimes shake with the pain I'm also a mum of 3 and breast feeding so all I'm taking is paracetamol and ibuprofen any tips or advice .I'm sure the chiropractors made my condition 50% worse ?
7525620 tn?1391621195
Misty81x   /   Ruby03   /     joesl8  

I would be interested to hear how you are all getting on, it's coming up 6 month's since I damaged my neck with 3 prolapsed discs with all touching the spinal cord and 1 causing nerve root compression and they are happy to leave me on pain killers that are not working
Avatar universal
Hi there
I went back to the gp this morning with crippling pain last night there putting an urgent referral in for me to see orthopaedic consultant I have been waiting a year for this mri took a year for  a dr to reffer me I just seem to be fighting for advice all the time . I let you know what happens with consultant  hope they help. I had to stop breastfeeding my daughter as I needed to take tablets for the pain it even hurt when I lie down its got a lot worse also taking codine , naproxen & diazipam doesn't help very much , sorry you're in so much pain all the best.
Avatar universal
bilateral spondylolysis (pars defect) of the L3 vertebra with grade Isondylolisthesis of the L3 over L4 vertebra causing narrowing of foramina bilaterally.Pseudoannular bulge with medium sized left lateral and far lateral focal protrusion of intervenening L3-4 disc, indenting the thecal sac, compressing the left existing L3 nerve root and partially obliterating foraminal fat. canal stenosis is present at this level.Mild diffuse annular bulge with left posterolateral annular tear of L4-5 disc,indenting the thecal sac and partially obliterating foraminal fat bilaterally.Moderate to severe facet osteoarthropathy at this level. Canal stenosis is present at this level.
Small broad based central protrusionb of L1-2 disc, indenting th thecal Sac.
Herniation of C4-5, C5-6, D5-6 and D8-9 discs,indenting the thecal sac.
plz recommend treatment.
Have an Answer?

You are reading content posted in the Back & Neck Community

Top Pain Answerers
Avatar universal
st. louis, MO
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
Find out how beta-blocker eye drops show promising results for acute migraine relief.
Could it be something you ate? Lack of sleep? Here are 11 migraine triggers to look out for.
Find out if PRP therapy right for you.
Tips for preventing one of the most common types of knee injury.
Here are 10 ways to stop headaches before they start.
Tips and moves to ease backaches