Originally Posted by slyk
I recently had a cervical MRI due to increased pain and numbness in my left arm. I would like an explanation in layman's terms.
1. C3-4:broad 4mm osteophyte disc protrusion complex with mild central canal stenosis, mild bilateral neural foraminal narrowing and a 2mm retrolisthesis.
2. C4-5: broad 3mm osteophyte disc protrusion complex with mild central canal stenosis, mild right neural foraminal narrowing and moderate left neural foraminal narrowing.
3. C5-6 broad 4 mm osteophyte disc protrusion complex with mild central canal stenosis, moderate bilateral neural foraminal narrowing and a 2mm retrolisthesis.
4. C6-7: broad 3mm disc protrusion with borderline canal stenosis and mild bilateral neural foraminal narrowing.
Thank you for your time
Welcome to NT. Glad you found us. I can tell you a couple things based on some of the things I have learned based on my situation and my own experience and it may not apply to your situation so you should consult with your doc and discuss the results.
A couple of thoughts. The osteophytes are essentially bone spurs. It does not say that they are affecting the nerve roots but that would be a good question to ask you doc when you see him. Are they pressing on any thing and inflaming the nerve roots which could cause the pain? Is the pain intermittant or constant which could relate to movement in the c spine?
Looks like you have some narrowing of the canal but it does not sound too bad where it is causing compression.
Where in your left arm is your pain? My guess is the the pain is coming from C5/6 and c6/7 depending on where your pain is. The most common areas for disc movement and pain is c5/6/7.
The retrolithesis is essentially related to movement of the c spine where one of the vertebrae moves backwards. A retrolistheis means the vertebra on top has slipped backwards relative to the one on the bottom. For instance, "there is a retrolisthesis of C5 on C6". This means that the C5 vertebra has moved backwards relative to the C6 vertebra. wHEN THIS HAPPENS A nerve can get pinched. Also you have a sligt disc bulge below at c 6/7 which could be related to the movement. Its really not a large disc bulge though. I think its more the movement at is causing your pain. And when a nerve is irritated it makes the surrounding muscles spasm which then clench on the nerve to protect it and make it worse. And depending on the degree of movement when there is movement those bone spurs could then be pressing on the nerve roots when you move.
I have retrolithesis at c5/6 and the doc told me that it means for the most part my cervical spine is unstable and it moves more than it should. Another name for it is subluxation and depending on how I am moviing the disc or vertebrae at c 5/6 moves where one slides too much either overthe other and pinch the disc or put pressure on the nerve roots which cause pain. You can google subluxation or retrolithesis and it will explain it better than me.
They could order PT with maybe traction and ultrasound or some cervical epidural or depending on how severe they think it is the worst case scenario is an surgery called an ACDF.
PT has helped me. You need to keep moving. Otherwise the facet joints at each vertebrae will get stiff and that cause more pain. The ultrasound really helps me with the facet joints.
What you really need to do is try to get thos nerve roots calmed down to help the pain. The doc should be able to help with that. Maybe some muscle relaxers, or an antiinflammatory or a low level pain killer could help.
In addition to the MRI ask the doc for an xray series with neck extension and flexion so they can gauge the degree of movement in the vertebrae when you move your neck. Be sure to ask him the degree of movement, mine is 10-13 degrees which is beyond what it should be by almost double. Also ask the doc for an EMG to help pinpoint the source of the pain. You really need all three tests, MRI, flexion x-rays and EMG to really pinpoint where the problem is. For example, my MRI really showed nothing. But the EMG indicated something moderate but it took simple x-rays with my neckin motion to indicate the problem. So please be sure to ask him for these tests. One alone is not enough.
SOme personal suggestions...laying onthe arm of the couch will add to your pain as can sleeping on your side. You might want to try to get some special pillows to help with the pressure on your neck. Also the computer can make things worse.
Hope that helps.