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"What do my MRI results mean?"

ZocdocAnswersWhat do my MRI results mean?


Here are my results: "Severe degenerative changes of lumber spine. L3 & L4 - Spinal Stenosis and poss. left sided exiting nerve root impingement. L5 & S1 - Small disc herniation, seems eccentric to right which is possible impinging on exiting nerve on right. Thank you. :)


I'm sorry about your back pain. Before we get into the explanation, I should first say that MRI images and results in and of themselves should rarely ever be the only reason to act on or treat a condition, and should always be correlated with your symptoms, such as pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, and even bowel/bladder symptoms. The way to do that is to always talk to your physician, especially an orthopaedic or neurosurgical spine surgeon, about your MRI findings and your symptoms. That said, your MRI results essentially indicate that you have arthritic or degenerative changes of your lower spine. Your lumbar spine refers to the lower portion of your boney spine column just above your pelvis. Your spinal cord is housed and protected within the boney spinal column, and is the thick tree trunk of nerves that control everything from your muscles to your bowel and bladder function to your ability to feel touch, temperature and pressure. Just like any healthy tree trunk, the spinal cord gives off nerves like branches all along its length, which exit out of small openings on both sides of the boney spinal column. All long the boney spinal column and in between each level of exiting "branches" of nerves, live spongy discs that work as shock absorbers and hinges for the otherwise rigid boney spinal column, allowing mobility of your back. Your MRI results indicate that you've got some arthritic narrowing of the spaces where the branches of nerves exit. Further, it also sounds like one of your discs has extruded out somewhat, and may be pinching one of the nerve branches as well. This likely causes buttock, thigh, groin or leg pain, numbness, or tingling. Again, please consult your spine surgeon, and certainly call 911 or go to the emergency room should your symptoms change or worsen.

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