Discussions By Condition: Back conditions

MRI reveals multi-level degenerative disc disease

Posted In: Back conditions 28 Replies
  • Posted By: jjoanne
  • March 25, 2008
  • 07:32 PM

Help! I am a female, in my mid 50's. My MRI showed mild cervical and lumbar stenosis, with multi-level degenerative disc disease. There was also multi level mild foriminal encroachment, and disc buldging. THe PCP sent me to a physical therapist for exercises for my lumbar spine. The PT found that I have thoracic joint dysfunction AND sacroiliac joint dysfunction. She saw that I could not do squats, either. Could someone tell me if it is normal for a woman my age to have so much wrong with her spine? Should the PCP try to find out what is causing the thoracic and sacroiliac joint dysfunction, before any mnore physical therapy? (I have had stiffness and pain in my sacral spine since 2001, and it has gotten progressively worse. I also have leg muscle pain and heaviness when I stand or walk, that is ALSO getting progressively worse.) Could I have spinal stenosis in my thoracic region? (It feels like a band of tightness around my chest, and I can not turn over in bed.) Could I have sacral nerve compression?

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  • Help! I am a female, in my mid 50's. My MRI showed mild cervical and lumbar stenosis, with multi-level degenerative disc disease. There was also multi level mild foriminal encroachment, and disc buldging. THe PCP sent me to a physical therapist for exercises for my lumbar spine. The PT found that I have thoracic joint dysfunction AND sacroiliac joint dysfunction. She saw that I could not do squats, either. Could someone tell me if it is normal for a woman my age to have so much wrong with her spine? Should the PCP try to find out what is causing the thoracic and sacroiliac joint dysfunction, before any mnore physical therapy? (I have had stiffness and pain in my sacral spine since 2001, and it has gotten progressively worse. I also have leg muscle pain and heaviness when I stand or walk, that is ALSO getting progressively worse.) Could I have spinal stenosis in my thoracic region? (It feels like a band of tightness around my chest, and I can not turn over in bed.) Could I have sacral nerve compression? Im sorry ur going through this......i cant answer ur questions as still looking my own answers but i can tell u what has helped me, I think u should also try it.................a natural drug recommended to me by Pain Consultant.......Glucosamine Sulphate.....also take Cod liver oil capsuals..........although it is not a cure I felt alot more ease of general pain, bones/joints and muscles. Please try them ! hopefully someone here will be able to answer ur questions ! I wish u well ! :)
    Tootsie 628 Replies Flag this Response
  • Hi JJoanne sorry to hear of your troubles, you have quite a few issues with your health. It is not normal for a woman of your age to have so many problems with there spine, however it is not that uncommon for someone to have the same problems that you have. It would be a good idea for your PCP to try and find out what is causing your thoracic joint dysfunction, and sacroiliac joint dysfunction, but this is very difficult, there are various theories as to why this occurs, but none have really been proven, and there is a lot of disagreement. If you had spinal stenosis in your thoracic region it would have almost certainly been picked up on your MRI, the band of tightness you describe could have other causes such as abnormal alignment of the vertebrae, and or fixated joints. If you have sacral nerve compression it should say so on your MRI, you said your MRI found multi level mild foriminal encroachment, this can result in nerve compression at what level is this present, L5-S1 would be the sacral level.Your problems have probably been developing over a long period of time, and are interrelated. One thing that is in your favor is that you have not mentioned any thing about facet joint arthritis an MRI would have picked this up. Good luck.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • To oscar77 and tootsie, :)Thank you for your reply...I use the computer at the library and could not get back here any sooner. I looked at the printout of my MRI results, and it also DID say facet disease. :eek: I missed that last time. There are so many words in the report that I do not know the meaning of. Basically the MRI of my cervical and lumbar spine showed...that I have mild cervical and lumbar stenosis, multi-level degenerative disc disease, facet disease, and moderate foraminal encroachment at many levels. It also said I had benign hemangiomas. What is that? The reoprt did not say where they were, or if they were in the bone or not. Is this something serious? Could I have these in my pelvis? Would an x-ray reveal it? The pelvic pain is spreading forward and getting worse. I think I might have sacral nerve compression or thoracic stenosis because of the tightness around my chest. (Would the MRI that was taken of my lumbar spine also whow if there is sacral nerve compression, or any pelvic tumors?) :confused:I also can not walk too long because my legs get very heavy and painful. Does anyone know what causes so much to be wrong with the spine of a woman age 55. Today I went to a totsally different doctor and he ordered x-rays of my pelvis and an MRI of my thoracic spine. I hope this will finally gives me some answers. He also said I have Sacroiliitis! What is that? He asked me to walk on my toes and I could NOT do this at all. I also could NOT kneel down and get up!
    jjoanne 7 Replies Flag this Response
  • hello again jjoanne I don't think anyone can tell you why you have so many problems with your spine but your problems have probably been developing over a long period of time, when did you first notice symptoms?.mild cervical and lumbar stenosis, this means your spinal canal that houses your spinal cord has narrowed some.facet disease, this refers to arthritis of the small delicate joints at the back of your vertebrae that guide and limit motion of your spine.moderate foraminal encroachment at many levels, foraminal encroachment is narrowing of the grooves between your vertebrae that your nerves coarse out of.benign hemangiomas, these are vascular abnormalities usually congenital probably nothing to worry about however you should ask your doctor about these.Would the MRI that was taken of my lumbar spine also show if there is sacral nerve compression, or any pelvic tumors?), it might not show sacral nerve compression because it might not go low enough nerves also exit the sacrum which is below the lumbar spine. i don't know about tumors.Sacroiliitis, is an inflammation of either just one or both sacroiliac joints these are the joints between the sacrum and the illia bones (pelvic bones).good luck jjoanne
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • I hear ya girl, I am a 48 year old male that has been dealing with the same issues for 18 years now. The Navy told me I had myofascial pain. Now I am fused C-3 to T-1 and the myofascial pain went away. Check for other injuries or signs of the umbrella dx's of myofascial or fibromyalgia symtoms. Both may indicate the existance of an old injury. Mine was a fractured scapula.:o
    rustydusty 1 Replies Flag this Response
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    weiwei 10 Replies Flag this Response
  • I agree completely you need glucosamine sulfate - at least 1500mg twice daily. Also chondroitin and MSM in 1000mg doses. These are all very helpful for degenerative disc disease. It takes up to six months before noticing real changes, tho some feel a difference more quickly. Also consider acupuncture to help you with this. Acupuncture helps treat the pain, plust promotes healing at the tissues and joints. I personally don't believe that degenerative disc disease is irreversible. Try the above and see if it helps you - it really should! Best wishesDOM
    acuann 3,080 Replies Flag this Response
  • You should go see a spine specialist with the list of things that you have wong with your back, there is a lot that your PCP might not know what to do with.
    SpineGirl 64 Replies
    • October 11, 2008
    • 11:53 PM
    • 0
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  • It also said I had benign hemangiomas. What is that? The reoprt did not say where they were, or if they were in the bone or not. Is this something serious? Could I have these in my pelvis? Would an x-ray reveal it? More information regarding hemangiomas, also known as angiomas or malformations can be found at angiomaalliance.org
    Bince6 1 Replies
    • December 30, 2008
    • 00:09 AM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • Hi, Joanne. Don't let anyone rush you into any kind of surgery unless you have a significant neurologic deficit (tripping over your foot, falling, etc.). Surgery done solely for pain relief is generally unsuccessful and can actually make you worse. Any time you have surgery, scar tissue forms, which can lead to more problems. Has anyone suggested seeing a pain management specialist? They can do some injections that would probably help you get through your PT (which is essential) more easily and effectively.
    jenn96rn 14 Replies
    • December 30, 2008
    • 02:37 AM
    • 0
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  • Help! I am a female, in my mid 50's. My MRI showed mild cervical and lumbar stenosis, with multi-level degenerative disc disease. There was also multi level mild foriminal encroachment, and disc buldging. THe PCP sent me to a physical therapist for exercises for my lumbar spine. The PT found that I have thoracic joint dysfunction AND sacroiliac joint dysfunction. She saw that I could not do squats, either. Could someone tell me if it is normal for a woman my age to have so much wrong with her spine? Should the PCP try to find out what is causing the thoracic and sacroiliac joint dysfunction, before any mnore physical therapy? (I have had stiffness and pain in my sacral spine since 2001, and it has gotten progressively worse. I also have leg muscle pain and heaviness when I stand or walk, that is ALSO getting progressively worse.) Could I have spinal stenosis in my thoracic region? (It feels like a band of tightness around my chest, and I can not turn over in bed.) Could I have sacral nerve compression?Joanne I know what you are going through. I am 52, and my MRI sounds worse than yours, multilevel degenerative disc disease, severe foraminal stenosis at L5 and moderate spinal stenosis with bulging discs all over the place and foraminal stenosis in other levels that are moderate. Facet disease and ligament thickening. I did gymnastics as a girl and teenager, and I lifted heavy people as a nurse and have had four pregnancies. I have lifted cumulatively over a ton per shift. It's a miracle I haven't broken my back before now.I am trying the epidural injections and PT, but I am going to try the glucosomine like theposter suggested. Also am on the typical meds. I with you the very best and hope bothof us get out of having to have surgery. I am praying I will.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies
    • February 16, 2009
    • 04:10 AM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
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  • I know how upsetting that news must be for you...just this past week I was told that I have Multi-Level Degenerative Disc Disease. My lowest three discs are all compromised and fixing them by continuing conservative therapy or even a single surgery seems to be out of the question. The most upsetting part about all of this information is that I am only 19 years old. I was told no high impact activity until we can fix the problem, this is also a big blow for me...I am a tennis player. I play for my university as well as in public tournaments. I knew I had some problems in my back, but I had no idea that they were this bad or that they could be this bad, let alone at my age!!! So in response to your question...yes, younger people can have these problems, but no they are not common. I hope you find relief. I am looking into clinical trials for new disc replacements. There are 2 currently on the market, and another 3 on the way. They all have promising results. Good Luck!!! ~2Young4This89~
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • I know how upsetting that news must be for you...just this past week I was told that I have Multi-Level Degenerative Disc Disease. My lowest three discs are all compromised and fixing them by continuing conservative therapy or even a single surgery seems to be out of the question. The most upsetting part about all of this information is that I am only 19 years old. I was told no high impact activity until we can fix the problem, this is also a big blow for me...I am a tennis player. I play for my university as well as in public tournaments. I knew I had some problems in my back, but I had no idea that they were this bad or that they could be this bad, let alone at my age!!! So in response to your question...yes, younger people can have these problems, but no they are not common. I hope you find relief. I am looking into clinical trials for new disc replacements. There are 2 currently on the market, and another 3 on the way. They all have promising results. Good Luck!!! ~2Young4This89~ I would seek another opinion from a physiatrist, or an orthopedic surgeon, if you go to a surgeon make sure that they support conservative treatment and use surgery only as a last resort. First of all I am the assistant for an orthopedic spine surgeon and there is no reason aside from a traumatic event that a 19 year old should be considering spine surgery, having surgery that young starts you on a path of chronic pain and having multiple surgeries over your lifetime. Second, I like you am very active, I played tennis competively in high school and college and know the stress it causes. I have suffered from neck pain and headaches for years and my MRI reveals several bulging discs and degeneration at every level, it's a normal part of life, maybe not at 19 but every one would have degeneration whether they had pain or not. If you want more info I would be happy to email you, let me know.
    SpineGirl 64 Replies Flag this Response
  • I would seek another opinion from a physiatrist, or an orthopedic surgeon, if you go to a surgeon make sure that they support conservative treatment and use surgery only as a last resort. First of all I am the assistant for an orthopedic spine surgeon and there is no reason aside from a traumatic event that a 19 year old should be considering spine surgery, having surgery that young starts you on a path of chronic pain and having multiple surgeries over your lifetime. Second, I like you am very active, I played tennis competively in high school and college and know the stress it causes. I have suffered from neck pain and headaches for years and my MRI reveals several bulging discs and degeneration at every level, it's a normal part of life, maybe not at 19 but every one would have degeneration whether they had pain or not. If you want more info I would be happy to email you, let me know. I would appreciate any advice that is out there!! I do have a history of back trauma, but I still never thought it would catch up to me so quickly.
    2Young4This89 1 Replies Flag this Response
  • Has anyone tried acupuncture?DOM
    acuann 3,080 Replies Flag this Response
  • I would appreciate any advice that is out there!! I do have a history of back trauma, but I still never thought it would catch up to me so quickly. email me at spinegirl@live.com if you would like as there is no way that I know of to communicate through this site aside from posting. acuann- yes I have tried accupuncture several times over the last 5-6 years and I never found any relief from it. I suppose it helps some people and not others, I have some patients who swear by it so I know that it does indeed work for some people.
    SpineGirl 64 Replies Flag this Response
  • email me at spinegirl@live.com if you would like as there is no way that I know of to communicate through this site aside from posting. acuann- yes I have tried accupuncture several times over the last 5-6 years and I never found any relief from it. I suppose it helps some people and not others, I have some patients who swear by it so I know that it does indeed work for some people. I find there is a huge difference in practitioners and training, and between TCM trained practitioners and Doctors who practice "medical" acupuncture. It's important to find a good Oriental medical doc to help you... But you are right there are sometimes patients i can't help...they are very much in the minority (I'd say 85% of patients who come for treatments report relief of their symptoms). Spinegirl, may I ask if you drink or eat foods sweetened with artificial sweeteners? Best wishesDOM
    acuann 3,080 Replies Flag this Response
  • I find there is a huge difference in practitioners and training, and between TCM trained practitioners and Doctors who practice "medical" acupuncture. It's important to find a good Oriental medical doc to help you... But you are right there are sometimes patients i can't help...they are very much in the minority (I'd say 85% of patients who come for treatments report relief of their symptoms). Spinegirl, may I ask if you drink or eat foods sweetened with artificial sweeteners? Best wishesDOM I have been to 3 different practitioners, and I honestly cannot remember what their training/background was, I do know that they were credible as I did do my research on each of them and I do work in the medical field and checked references before I went to each. I don't eat foods with artificial sweetners in them at all, I have severe migraines and have found that artificial sweetners make them worse. I generally eat very healthy. The thing that I have found to be the most helpful is manual therapy which is a specific type of physical therapy, I have been treated by a therapist who is brilliant and knows more than any physical therapist I have ever met.
    SpineGirl 64 Replies Flag this Response
  • I have been to 3 different practitioners, and I honestly cannot remember what their training/background was, I do know that they were credible as I did do my research on each of them and I do work in the medical field and checked references before I went to each. I don't eat foods with artificial sweetners in them at all, I have severe migraines and have found that artificial sweetners make them worse. I generally eat very healthy. The thing that I have found to be the most helpful is manual therapy which is a specific type of physical therapy, I have been treated by a therapist who is brilliant and knows more than any physical therapist I have ever met. Glad to hear you are getting some relief from the manual therapy. And glad you stopped the art. sweeteners.:) Artificial sweeteners are very nasty indeed. There are many paths towards healing, and you are right what works for one may not work for another. My main point is that there are other therapies to try when allopathic medicine offers you only surgery or medications as options. Best wishesDOM
    acuann 3,080 Replies Flag this Response
  • Just out of curiosity have you had success in treating patients with migraines or neck pain with no particular medical reason? I have been at a stand still with physical therapy and I'm planning on stopping aside from going in when I am in a lot of pain to get some relief. I would be willing to try accupuncture again, and pay more attention to their training, it has been a few years since I last tried accupuncture.
    SpineGirl 64 Replies Flag this Response
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