What do these MRI results mean?

Patient

Q: I have a question in regards to what my test results mean. Basically, a translation of MRI results. The answers I am getting are very vague and are not making much sense. I am hoping that a physician here can help me.

History of illness:
I am a 28 year old female with chronic back pain. I do not take any medication. I do not have any significant past medical history. I am 5'1 and 120 lbs.

I've had daily lower back pain since I was a child. My mother took me to the pediatrician when I was about 12 and the pain was blamed on my bookbag being too heavy. No imaging was performed. I knew the bookbag wasn't the cause because I didn't even carry a bookbag around. I was sent to physical therapy. That didn't help. The back pain continued daily.

Around age 21, I went to the doctor and he "blew off" my complaints and prescribed me muscle relaxers and told me to take Ibuprofen.No imaging was performed. No relief was obtained. The back pain continued but I was able to deal with it. It hurt daily but did not interfere with my daily living.

I went to a chiropractor, and he performed adjustments. The adjustments helped, but I still had a lot of pain. Again, I continued to just deal with the pain...

I am now 29 and am working full-time in a health care facility providing patient care. I am on my feet constantly which worsens the pain. I can no longer deal with it as it is worsening. I went back to my PCP who initially prescribed muscle relaxers and Ibuprofen. He told me that he doubts anything is wrong and that I most likely have sacroilliac dysfuntion. I insisted that he order an MRI.

I had my MRI and these are the results:

There is disc desiccation and moderate diffuse disc bulging at the L4-L5 level which together with degenerative facet joint changes and ligamentous hypertrophy associated with mild spinal stenosis and mild bilateral foraminal narrowing at this level. More focal very small central posterior disc herniation is also suspected at this level, mildly impressing upon the adjacent thecal sac.

There is disc desiccation and moderate disc diffuse disc bulging at the L5-S1 level associated with moderate bilateral foraminal narrowing.

The intrathecal contents are intrinsically unremarkable.

My symptoms: I have right sided lower back pain that is constant and aching. I also have numbess/tingling/pain down my right leg that comes and goes. This numbness/tingling/leg pain usually occurs when the back pain is more severe (which occurs when I am at work and on my feet). I wake up with numbess/tingling in my legs and feet every morning. I have pain when I bend forward and then try and stand back up again. It's like I get "stuck." Sitting in a chair for any amount of time also worsens my pain. I cannot stay seated for very long. The only thing that helps is lying down.

I go to work and am on my feet constantly which causes severe back pain. I am lifting patients and bending over constantly. It's like my back problems get "flared up" when I go to work. I get off work and try to get rest but cannot sleep because of the pain. I go to work again the next day and my back gets "irritated" again as it was already flared up from the day before. This causes more pain and my back never has a chance to feet better... No matter what, I know I am going to have pain daily. I've been having this pain for 15 years. No matter what I do, it still occurs. There just comes a point where it becomes intolerable and it's related to working. However, I cannot find a different job as this is where my degree is... patient care.

I am wanting to understand what those MRI results mean. To me, it's just a bunch of big words and I am hoping a physician is able to break it down for me and tell me what the treatments options are.

Thank you so much.

Symptoms:  Back pain. See above explanation.
Doctor

A:   This question is currently in queue and will be answered shortly by one of our doctors. In the meantime you may browse our library of answered questions by clicking here.

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