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Suffering from low back pain. What do my reports tell ?

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Spine Surgeon
Practicing since : 2002
Answered : 102 Questions

I just got the results of an MRI I had done due to almost two years of low back pain. The orthopedic doctor didn't really explain the results to me but has referred me for PT and pain management. Can someone please help me understand the findings?

I am a 41 year old female who has had low back pain and issues with frequent urination (not sure if it's related) for almost 2 years.


There is straightening of the lumbar spine lordosis and advanced Modic endplate changes at L4-L5 with discogenic disease.

-L3-L4: Mild broad-disc bulge extending 1-2 mm beyond the vertebral endplate. There is early tear of the annulus fibrosis of the right para-lateral margin. There is moderate left and early mild right neuroforaminal narrowing. Compression of the exiting left L3 nerve is suspected. Fluid is noted within the facets.

-L4-L5: Disc desiccation and significant disc height loss. Aggressive Modic endplate changes. Broad-based disc bulge extends 3 mm beyond the vertebral endplate and contributes toward moderately severe bilateral lateral recess encroachment. There is facet arthropathy and thickening of the ligamentum flavum. There is moderate bilateral neuroforaminal stenosis. Compression of the exiting bilateral L4 nerves is suspected. The budding L5 nerves appear grossly unremarkable.

An approximately 2 cm parapelvic cyst of the right kidney is identified. A 2 cm left ovarian cyst is incidentally noted.

I appreciate any information you can share.

Thank you.
Posted Tue, 22 May 2012 in Back Pain
Answered by Dr. Krishna Kumar 2 hours later

Thank you for the query.

Our backbones are called vertebrae and in the lower back there are 5 bones from L1 to L5 and sacrum. In between these bones, there is a cushion like material called inter-vertebral disc.

Inside these bones , there is a passage through which the nerves run. Whenever the disc bulges, it presses against these nerves, causing pain in the back or legs with or without affecting the urinary bladder.

In your case the frequency of urination is not related to the disc bulge. The vertebral bones are connected and form a joint called facet, which can get filled with fluid that also results in back pain.

Hope this information helps you. Please do write back if you have any additional concerns.

Wishing you good health.

Dr. Krishna Kumar.
Spine surgeon.

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