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Help With MRI Results

Hi, folks. I’ve been having some trouble with weakness and tingling on my right side for quite a while now (I’ve posted about it once or twice before). In particular, my right tricep has atrophied greatly just above my elbow. Anyway, I finally got the doc to schedule an MRI, and here are the results. I also got a referral to a specialist, but I was wondering if any medical professionals around here have an opinion in the meantime? Am I going to become a cripple anytime soon? Thanks in advance.


Cervical Spine Findings: Multiplanar MR imaging of the cervical spine was performed. Sagittal images reveal straightening of the normal cervical lordosis which may be in part positional. There is, however, moderate multilevel degenerative disk disease which is further detailed below. Vertebral body heights are well-maintained. there is mild disk space narrowing at C5-6 and C6-7. Bone marrow signal is unremarkable. No abnormal signals noted in the spinal cord.

C2-3: There is no disk herniation, central spine stenosis or neuroforaminal narrowing noted.

C3-4: There is mild diffuse disk osteophyte complex with minimal narrowing of the neural foramina bilaterally but no central spinal stenosis.

C4-5: There is minimal diffuse disk osteophyte complex which is slightly asymmetric to the right resulting in mild narrowing of the right neural foramen. There is no foraminal narrowing on the left. There is no central spinal stenosis.

C5-6: There is moderate diffuse osteophyte complex with severe bilateral neuroforaminal narrowing. There is a superimposed right paracentral focal disk protrusion. The protrusion does impress upon the ventral surface of the spinal cord resulting in borderline spinal stenosis. There is, however, no significant cord compression.

C6-7: There is moderate diffuse disk osteophyte complex which results in moderate to several bilateral neuroforaminal narrowing. There is no central spinal stenosis.

IMPRESSION: 1. MULTILEVEL DEGENERATIVE DISK DISEASE. FINDINGS ARE MOST SEVERE AT C5-6 AND AT C6-7 WHERE THERE IS MODERATE TO SEVERE NEUROFORAMINAL NARROWING. 2. SUPERIMPOSED RIGHT PARACENTRAL DISK PROTRUSION AT C5-6 RESULTS IN BORDERLINE CENTRAL SPINAL STENOSIS WITH NO CORD COMPRESSION

THORACIC SPINE FINDINGS: Multiplanar imaging of the thoracic spine was performed. Sagittal images reveal mild to moderate compression deformity of the T4 vertebral body with approximately 30% loss of vertebral body height anteriorly. Fat saturated images reveal no significant edema within this vertebral body, and this is likely a chronic finding. Remaining vertebral body heights are well-maintained. Mild multilevel degenerative disk disease is noted with multiple small disk bulges at several levels in the mid thoracic spine. There is also disk space narrowing at multiple levels. There is no significant central spinal stenosis or neuroforaminal narrowing. No abnormal signal is noted in the spinal cord.

IMPRESSIONS: 1. MILD TO MODERATE CHRONIC APPEARING COMPRESSION DEFORMITY OF THE T4 VERTEBRAL BODY. 2. MILD TO MODERATE MULTILEVEL DEGENERATIVE DISK DISEASE.

Anything talked about in this discussion is for educational purposes only and any medical advice you follow should come only from your doctors who have examined you and personally looked at your imaging studies.

It sounds like the cervical MRI has shown some possible candidates for the cause of your symptoms.

At two levels midway down your cervical spine the reported findings seem to be most pronounced. There are degenerative (wear-and-tear) changes and “bone spurs” which are narrowing the tunnels where the nerves exit the spine. Also at one of these levels, the disc (cushion between two vertebrae)is sticking out a bit and touching your spinal cord, toward the right side. The report states that it is not squeezing or compressing the cord.

If the neural foraminal (tunnel) narrowing or the protrusion is severe enough to pinch/compress/irritate the nerves or the spinal cord, you could experience symptoms such as weakness, numbness, tingling etc.

One of your doctors will do a thorough exam and determine what nerve distribution or spinal level your symptoms correspond to. If these match up with what your MR showed, then possible treatments can be discussed. If your symptoms are severe enough to warrant it, surgery may be a possibility.

To answer your question, no, you’re not going to be a cripple any time soon. However, the types of changes described in your cervical spine will not “get better” on their own and may progress over time. If these findings are causing your symptoms, oftentimes surgery can be performed that fixes the problem and may alleviate your symptoms and let things (in your arm) get back to normal.

This post is largely speculative, given the fact that I haven’t examined you or looked at your films and should not be taken as medical advice. Hopefully it did answer one or two of your questions.

Good luck!

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Thanks, guys. GoOrange, don’t worry, I’ll be getting an in-person exam soon, but I always like to go in having studied up a bit.

bushido, feel free to disperse the info at your discretion.

Two more questions, if you would…

If you were forced to guess the cause of the injuries, would you wager on a) past, intense, powerlifting-type activities, or b) mma/grappling training?

Also, are there any “nice” surgical options to fix this? You know, one-inch-incision-leave-the-same-day procedures with lasers and shit?

Thanks again for your help.

Sorry, bushido, I realized I never addressed this part of your post.

I haven’t had a “real” physical exam yet, but my right (dominant) tricep is about half the strength of my left. My upper pectoral, bicep, and lat also have noticeable but less severe weakness. My tricep reflex is okay (my GP tried that).