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Advice on MRI results

Started by Angiepops on 10/17/2012 9:45am


I was wondering if anyone could offer some advice, i have had these results today from my MRI.
I am only 40 and do not wish to stay on meds long term do you think i will need an operation?

Degenerative loss of disc height and signal in the lower 3 lumber disks and multilevel facet joint hypertrophy

L3 / L4 the combination of the posterior ostephytic bar and bilateral facet joint hypertrophy is causing mild central and lateral canal stenosis

L4/L5 broadbased right posterior osteophytic bar and bilateral facet joint hypertrophy causing moderate right lateral recess stenosis and mild central and left lateral recess stenosis. There is impingement of the right L5 nerve root in the lateral recess

L5 /S1 broad based posterior discophytic bar causing moderate narrowing of the right neural foramen and just touching the L5 nerve root within the neural foramen

I have pain everyday i have been given Amitriptyline but this does not ease pain....

Any advice etc

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2 Responses


I to have took Amitriptyline and if you ask me it is just a bs pill it did nothing for me as for your MRI I found this information online but treatment options are for you and your doctor to discuss.

In most situations, the treatment for lumbar spinal stenosis begins with conservative (nonoperative) treatments. This can include medications to reduce inflammation, even short courses of oral cortisone medication, and pain medications. There are also several medications directed specifically at nerve pain that are helpful in lumbar spinal stenosis, including gabapentin (Neurontin) and pregabalin (Lyrica). Physical therapy can help for many. Cortisone (steroid) injections in the lumbar spine, referred to as epidural injections, can also reduce the symptoms by decreasing inflammation and swelling around the nerve tissue. These are sometimes repeated up to three times per year.


Surgery may be indicated for those who do not improve with the above treatments or if there is severe or progressive weakness or loss of bowel or bladder function (cauda equina syndrome). Depending on the examination findings and imaging studies, there are various surgical procedures available to treat lumbar spinal stenosis, ranging from laminectomy to fusion procedures.

The main goal of surgery is to remove the structures that are compressing the nerves in the spinal canal or vertebral foramen. This is referred to as lumbar decompression surgery (laminectomy, laminotomy, foraminotomy). In some patients, this can be performed alone, but in other patients, it must be combined with lumbar fusion. If too much of the compressive structures need to be removed to free the nerve, the vertebrae may become unstable (spinal instability). This leaves the vertebrae with abnormal motion. If this occurs, a spinal fusion can be performed to make the vertebrae attached together and eliminate the motion at that level. Sometimes this requires metallic hardware to be installed in the vertebrae to adequately support and fix the involved bone.

Surgery for lumbar spinal stenosis can be very successful in most patients in relieving the leg symptoms of ambulatory pain, sciatica, and numbness. However, depending on the severity of the nerve compression and the length of time the nerve have been compressed, there may be some permanent damage that is not relieved with surgery. The success for back pain relief is less reliable with surgery than the relief of leg symptoms.


Hi Angiepops,

Sorry to hear about your spine issues at such a young age. I'll be 54 next month and have been dealing with chronic debilitating spinal pain for right at 4 years. I have 2 slipped discs, 4 bulging discs, 1 torn disc, severe arthritis in my entire spine and hips, stenosis at every level, bone spurs, pinched nerves at multiple levels, degenerative disc disease and more. I too did not want to get started on long term pain meds but in the end its much safer than surgery. Plus a high percentage of surgeries are not successful, and when you have issues at multiple levels there's only so much that can be done.

I suggest that you take your time and research as much as you can online, and if you have insurance coverage go ahead and visit with whatever doctors and specialists that are recommended, including possibly a neurosurgeon who is not knife happy and has good referrals from people you trust. In addition there's physical therapy, TENS unit for home use and herbal anti-inflammatories to get you thru until you come to a conclusion you are comfortable with. Do not rush into surgery without exploring ALL of your options and trying several of them, as surgery should be your last option. It is permanent and dangerous.

Right now you're probably in panic mode like most of us are when we first get our diagnosis. But you're doing the right thing by soliciting input from those who have been thru it. For me, I am against surgery unless absolutely necessary and I'm also against having a needle stuck in my spine! After trying P.T. and seeing multiple doctors I opted for seeing a pain management specialist who prescribes Tramadol 3x daily (one of the milder ones, its synthetic), along with a multitude of at home remedies including TENS unit, memory foam mattress, memory foam bean bag chair (Cozy Sac), herbal anti-inflammatories, moist heat and more.

Both stenosis and degenerative disc disease are progressive with age, so you will have to start making changes whether you have surgery or not. Again, take your time, don't rush into anything, and try not to get anxious or depressed over it. Best wishes to you as you begin your journey, I know how you feel! This site has been such a wealth of information for me, I know it will help you too.

P.S. I'm having a new MRI in two days, it seems my stenosis and disc damage has progressed since my last MRI 32 months ago. And of course my family doc blurted out the "S" word right away. We shall see.