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Back Problems Message Board

Back Problems Board Index

I would say that you may have some pain from muscle spasms, but your radiology report has nothing to do with muscle spasms. What is described in the report are degenerative changes that have occurred in your lumbar spine.

I suspect that your spine took a great deal of abuse when you were deployed and your MRI is reflecting the results of that stress and strain. When we think of words like degeneration, we tend to associate it with old age, but the spine actually begins to age in our twenties. Often discs are described as being similar to a jelly-filled "bismark" doughnut. The center of the disc (the nucleus) is a soft, gel-like substance. It is contained by a tough, outer ring of fibers that is called the "annulus fibrosis." This outer ring will sometimes bulge out due to wear and tear, (among many other reasons). It can also tear...and then it is called an annular tear. Sometimes when there is an annular tear, a chemical from the inside of the disc leaks out and is irritating to the adjacent nerves.

In the case of a bulging disc, it can press out into space that would normally be occupied by the spinal nerve, leaving less room for the nerve to function properly. This can cause the nerve to become compressed and leads to nerve pain. Either of these situations can be caused by wear and tear to the spine, or commonly, by a twisting type injury to the lower lumbar spine

The best type of doctor for an accurate diagnosis would be a spine specialist. This could be either an orthopedic spine surgeon or a neurosurgeon who limit their practice to issues of the neck and back. Other doctors have a limited knowledge of the spine. A patient can end up getting an incorrect diagnosis from them, and end up wasting quite a bit of time. I don't know what type of doctor you can get but they must have some orthopedic surgeons, at the very least!

When I first started out in the wonderful world of spine problems, my internist told me for over a year that I was fine... eventually he got tired of me complaining and ordered a MRI. Results came back; he read them and told me my back was just fine, for someone my age. I finally went to see a spine specialist who looked at my MRI for about a minute and told me the good news was I didn't need a fusion right away...the bad news was that there were no other options. Imagine my shock...going from thinking I was perfectly fine to being told I needed a lumbar fusion surgery.

You can find lots of information online pertaining to degenerative disc disease. It isn't actually a disease, but an easy way to categorize a bunch of changes that occur in the discs due to wear and tear, aging, and living. You might want to do a little reading so you will better understand what the MRI indicates is going on in your lumbar spine.

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