Disc herniation development

Patient

Q: I had an xray of my thoracic and lumbar back in Sept of 2012 because of low back pain. The report said everything was normal. Then, again in June of 2013 my doctor ordered another xray but this time the report stated mild narrowing of L5-S1 and disc desication at L4-5 and particularly at L5-S1, so my doctor ordered an MRI which shows disc herniations at L4-L5 and L5-S1. My question is, Did the first radiologist miss the narrowing or can herniated discs happen that quickly without any traumatic event? Also, an xray of my thoracic spine shows thoracic spur formation. At the time of the original xray I had just turned 40. Are thoracic spurs common for someone that age?

Symptoms:  Low back pain
Doctor

A:   Thank you for your question. Yes, lumbar intervertebral disc herniation can occur spontaneously even without traumatic injury. It is possible that this herniation could could have not been present during your first x ray or it could have not been detected. A thoracic spur or a bone spur in general develop in patients that are older. These spurs can impinge nerves leading to pain. We recommend that you follow up with your doctor for further evaluation and treatment.

Thank you for consulting AskTheDoctor.com

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