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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board

Spinal Cord Disorders Board Index

Welcome to the board. I can give you some general comments based on the report, but I would suggest you see a spine specialist for an accurate diagnosis and plan for treatment. This could be either a fellowship-trained orthopedic spine surgeon or a neurosurgeon. Seeing a specialist is not an indication that you need surgery, but that you need an accurate diagnosis and referral for conservative treatments by people the spine surgeon has knowledge of and confidence in.

Any time there is the possibility of damage to the spinal cord, it behooves you to take the situation seriously and to act accordingly.

I am going to assume this is your first bout with spinal issues so will be basic in my comments, assuming you have forgotten what you might have learned about anatomy of the spine!

Basically the structure that holds up the body is composed of bones called the vertebrae which are separated by soft, gelatinous "cushions." These discs are shaped like a hockey puck, made up of a tough outer band called the annulus surrounding the center of the disc that is called the nucleus.

In addition there are facet joints at each vertebral level, on either side of the central canal that link one vertebra to the next, and allow the spine to bend and twist. All this bone and tissue is designed to support and protect the spinal cord which, along with the brain, comprises the central nervous system. The spinal cord is the main pathway for information connecting the brain and peripheral nervous system...and its importance cannot be overstated!

My guess is that the force of the lifting has caused some of the discs to develop bulges. Degenerative disc disease is a degenerative condition brought on by daily wear and tear. It usually happens as we age...but the aging process in the human spine begins in our twenties.

While the report describes the disc bulges, it doesn't give us any idea how large are the bulges...or to what extent the bulges are impacting the thecal sac, which is the tough sac that encloses the spinal cord and contains the cerebral spinal fluid. For this reason you need to see a spine surgeon who will look at the images, and then correlate what is seen to what is found in physical exam, basic neurological exam and after listening to your comments about the symptoms, etc.

The first two discs closest to the head are OK as is the last cervical disc, but the middle ones all have disc bulges. At C4-5 and C5-6 in addition to the disc bulge each disc is showing an annular tear...which is a rip in the annulus, the outer layer of the disc. The problem with an annular tear is that sometimes it allows the inner part of the disc, the nucleus to drip out. This can cause a chemical reaction when the part leaking out comes in contact with the nerves of the annulus, or with a spinal nerve resulting in pain.

Also this bulging is pushing over far enough that it is coming in contact with the thecal sac and indenting some of the layers that surround the spinal cord. This is not yet a problem because the spinal cord itself is not being compressed...but it is causing enough pressure that you are experiencing some tingling and twitching. Should the compression get worse, it would begin to have an impact on the spinal cord itself.

The facet joints in all segments are OK.

With some conservative care, your discs should be able to heal without surgical intervention. You will need someone like the doctor to advise you about further weightlifting for the near future while you heal.

Good luck!

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