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Have headache with neck and jaw pain. MRI done. What are the findings in the report?

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Orthopaedic Surgeon
Practicing since : 1994
Answered : 10450 Questions
I just got my MRI results back from the imaging facility, but my Doctor hasn't called to explain. I've had severe headaches with neck and jaw pain for some time now. MRI says "There is diffuse disc desiccation from C2 through C7. Cervical cord is normal in caliber. The cerebellar tonsils are in normal location XXXXXXX Further down this is what is said:
C3-C4: THere is a central disc bulge withouth central canal stenosis or foraminal narrowing.
C4-C5: There is a broad-based disc bulge flattening the anterior thecal sac. There is no central canal stenosis.
C5-C6, and C6-C7: There is a shallow disc bulge without central canal stenosis or foraminal narrowing.

I've read enough to understand that no central canal stenosis is good and no narrowing is good. I was hoping to not have to go the entire weekend without some idea on pinched nerves, or if these "bulges" are things I will need to be concerned about as I know they aren't normal. I'm also curious if it is likely or unlikely that I might be asked to do more tests.

The last statement is as follows: Thin central linear cystic cavity within the cervical cord at C6-T1. This may represent normal fluid within the central cord however a tiny linear syrinx cannot be completely excluded.

I will speak with my Doctor next week, but any help or direction in interpreting this MRI would be much appreciated until then.

Posted Mon, 13 May 2013 in General Health
Answered by Dr. Praveen Tayal 1 hour later
Thanks for posting your query.
The description you have given above is suggestive of mild degenerative changes in the cervical spine with no foraminal stenosis or a Cervical Spondylosis.

Usually, the spinal cord and nerve roots are protected within the spinal canal. The spinal canal is guarded by the vertebrae which separated from one another by a cushion like intervertebral discs. With age, degenerative changes occur which leads to disc prolapse and spinal cord/nerve root compression.

Further tests are usually not required. Your mild symptoms can be taken care of with regular physiotherapy and neck strengthening exercises.

Initial Treatment options include Pain Killers and muscle relaxants.

You must consult your physician/neurosurgeon and get yourself evaluated.

I hope this answers your query.
In case you have additional questions or doubts, you can forward them to me, and I shall be glad to help you out.
Please accept my answer in case you do not have further queries.
Wishing you good health.
Dr. Praveen Tayal.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Have headache with neck and jaw pain. MRI done. What are the findings in the report? 12 minutes later
Thank you very much for your help, Dr. Tayal. What about the "bulges?" These just suggest the mild degenerative changes? I've heard of bulging discs, is that technically what you think I'm dealing with? And to confirm, you do not think I have any pinched nerves based on what info I gave you?
I've been on 2 different muscle relaxers - I started with Flexoril which did nothing. I'm now on generic for Zanaflex 4mg. I've only taken 1 at a time, but still have such terrible neck pain and stiffness along with jaw pain. Are you able to tell me if I can try 2 pills at a time? I believe my Dr said I could, but the bottle only says 1 every 6-8 hours as needed. I take them at night before bed.
Again, THANK YOU so much!!
blessings! XXXXXXX
Answered by Dr. Praveen Tayal 19 minutes later
Thanks for writing again.
You are dealing with mild bulging discs and muscle stiffness with no nerve root compression or pinched nerves.
You can take Zanaflex 4mg only 1 at a time. Adding a mild pain killer like Motrin will help in relieving all the pain.
You can also do a hot fomentation thrice daily and apply a local analgesic gel on the affected area for relief.
Hope my answer is helpful.
Do accept my answer in case there are no further queries.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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