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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board

Spinal Cord Disorders Board Index

Hi, I'm new to this message board and I don't know very much (yet) about spinal disorders, but I could sure use some help if there's anyone who can offer me some. I had a lumbar MRI in mid-December and a cervical one last week. Both locations showed degenerative disc disease, arthritis, and stenosis (and a whole lotta terms I've been trying to look up). I had a consult with a neurosurgeon last month regarding the lumbar MRI and am waiting for referral to a new neurosurgeon for consult on the cervical and 2nd opinion on the lumbar. The neuro consult said a decompression lumbar laminectomy was my only option for getting rid of the pain (down both legs, making walking or standing w/o Rx drugs impossible.. and hard even with meds). I'm hoping the 2nd consult will have more encouraging options for me and explain exactly what the results show. In the meantime, I'd love to know what the MRI results mean in layman's terms. Can anyone here help me out with that?
My lumbar MRI showed 3 areas with problems, L2-3, L3-4, & L4-5. The L2-3 is all slight (slight desiccation, small R paracentral disc protrusion mildly narrowing the R lateral recess), although I still don't know what it means. The L3-4 seems to be the 'bugger' (the one I'm pinning all the pain blame on). It shows narrowed disc space and a dessicated disc, circumferential annular bulging w/ broad-based L paracentral disc protrustion, mild degenerative changes in both facet joints, and is said to 'result in multifactorial moderate-severe central canal stenosis and narrowing of both neural foramina (particularly the L lateral recess)'. Also, the neuro consult read the scans as showing no spinal fluid left in this vertebrae?? The last, L4-5 shows a dessicated disc, annular bulging circumferentially with a small L foraminal disc protrustion and mild degenerative changes in both facet joints. The result says degenerative changes with multifactorial mild central stenosis and L neural foraminal narrowing from the protrusion. To me, all of that reads as Ancient Greek and I only take in bits and pieces. I would LOVE to know what it really means, how it translates to something I can understand --and how I can fix it or make it better (or, at least, not make it worse).
Reading the cervical MRI is just as perplexing for me. My cervical shows 5 areas with problems, though it seems most are mild and I'm assuming that's good. I've had 2 numb fingers and a small portion of my hand numb for 2 yrs now, with intermittent problems running through both hands and arms (weakness and 'shooting' pains). I also have carpal tunnel in both hands and arthritis in my thumbs/hands, but that's entirely separate, I believe --and managed well enough. With my cervical MRI, I have 3 areas with mild dorsal disc bulge (C2-3, C3-4, C4-5), one w/o anything else 'wrong', one w/ mild canal stenosis and neural foraminal narrowing (that lovely Greek again), and the third with mild canal narrowing w/ flattening of the ventral spinal cord (which sounds a bit unpleasant to me) as well as that neural foraminal narrowing. My C5-6, which seems to be the 'neck bugger', has moderate broad base dorsal disc bulge and dorsal osteophytic spurring resulting in severe canal stenosis w/ flattening of the spinal cord (that unpleasant sounding thing again). It also shows uncovertebral osteophytic spurring resulting in moderate R greater than L foraminal narrowing. There's also something about an increased T2 signal in the spinal cord at this level suggesting cord edema/myelomalacia. (I have no idea what that means, but would love to. I thought edema meant water retention, but I highly doubt that's what it means here). The last area seems mostly mild. C6-7 shows broad base dorsal disc bulge in mild canal stenosis and uncovertebral osteophytic spurring resulting in mild L foraminal narrowing.
If anyone managed to read through all of that (first, thanks! and second, wow) and can actually understand it, I would be monumentally grateful if you could explain it to me. And, if, by any chance, you can advise me on what I can do to make myself better or what avenues I need to pursue in order to get better, I'd be even more than monumentally grateful. I've heard rumors that I won't get better and that I will have to live with pain from now on and possibly get even worse (unless I have surgery, which, rumor goes, may not work). I have a hard time believing it's really that tricky of a thing to work with. I take care of my 13 yo son's numerous health problems and my husband's chronic,genetic illness as well. I have to be "on" for both of them and am finding that increasingly difficult as time keeps passing without my getting better. I have had problems being able to stand and walk without (horrific) pain since October, although pains started last March in my legs (my hands/arms started 2 yrs ago). My son was diagnosed last year with an incurable liver disease (he's early stage), crohn's diseases, autoimmune hives (allergic to himself), a change to his inherited medical condition (an unwelcome and negative change), and a problem with his feet, knees, and legs (he wears orthotic braces now and has a lot of physical therapy). He has had a hell of a year (and been amazing thorughout it all --he's a really remarkable boy). He needs me to be far more than I've been able to be for him the past several months. Also, I intend to be my son's future living liver donor (unless there's a cure found before he reaches end-stage liver disease) and I can't risk long-term meds that might damage my organs or my 'suitability' for his future transplant surgery (this, hopefully, is a long way's off) and I don't want to risk surgery(ies) for me that also might make me an unsuitable candidate ('disqualify' me) for transplant donation surgery either. I'm not sure at all how to tackle this problem, but I intend to try my best.
Thank you ('monumentally')
Wyatt's mom

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