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Spinal Cord Disorders Message Board


Spinal Cord Disorders Board Index


Hi there Spasmedout in Ohio. Let's back up a little bit on the MRI. Terms! Spondylolyisis is the weakening of a small area of bone that connects the facet joints to the main area of the vertebra. The facet joints link the vertebrae together at the back of the spine. They kind of stand out from the back of the vertebrae to make that joint connection. When the facet connector is weak, the joint is weak and the vertebrae can move out of place. 4-7% of the American population are born with this weak area but sports injuries can also make them weak. There are facet joints on both sides of the back of the vertebra.

Anterior spondylolisthesis(the full term they shortened) means that one vertebrae has slipped out over another. They can be anterior(moving towards the front of the body) or posterior(moving towards the back). They are graded by the degree of slippage and Grade 1 is the smallest slip.

So here is the problem in your lower back. Everything is good until the very bottom of the "moveable" spine(there is more spine but it doesn't move). At Lumbar5 and Sacral 1 you have a problem. The spondylolysis that you have on both sides of the L1 vertebra has weakened it and caused it to slip towards the front of the body but only a small amount. Fortunately, there is no swelling in the facet joints or signs of fracture or bone marrow swelling.

But you have disk problems too. Just above this area(L4-5) you have a bad disk. It has deteriorated("medicaleze" for shrinking down to very thin and dried out) and has ruptured out of it's tough outer ring just a little to form a bulge. Luckily, the bulge is not touching anything.

At L5-S1, the disk is again severely deteriorated(really thin and dried out) but there isn't any disk bulge or rupture. But you have a lot of arthritis. Osteoarthritis builds bone but it's faulty bone called osteophytes...also called bone spurs. You have some osteophytes along the back of the disk and further inside where they are pressing on the nerves that exit the vertebra. They grade these osteophytes pressing on the nerves as mild, moderate and severe pressure....you are moderate(but it still hurts!). And just to top it off, because of that slippage, you have some irregularities at the ends of the vertebrae from them rubbing against each other in the wrong way. There may also be swelling within the bone marrow from this rubbing(heck yes...it hurts to rub bone to bone).

So what does all this mean to you? You probably have some pain running down your legs that is getting progressively worse and your lower spine is slightly unstable and arthritic. Your back hurts. I have the exact same same problems and have had for years with an additional 4 herniated disks. It is treatable but not really operable at this time(what my doc told me).

We deal mainly with the cervical spine here in this board but many have lumbar and thoracic spine issues as well so we understand. But you might want to visit the Back Problems Board and say hello to others with this same problem. No need to shake....it's not that bad. It's the terminolgy that scares us! Your spinal cord is not involved(the big kahuna) and the nerves are only at moderate compression. Pain yes, but impending paralysis, no.

Hope this helps and you are always welcome here.

gentle hugs................Jenny





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