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What does a disc osteophyte complex mean in the context of neck injury?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2011
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what does this mean? there is left paracentral disk osteophyte complex bugle seen at C5-C6 indenting anterior sub-arachnoid space and left side of spinal cord minimally diminishing left intervertebral foramina at the same level..its referring to my neck injury
there is asymmetrical disc osteophyte complex bulge with right lateral disc protrusion seen at C6-C7 indenting anterior sub-arachnoid space and right side of spinal cord diminishing both intervertebral foramina with possibility of encroachment of both spinal nerve at same level
Posted Fri, 27 Apr 2012 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Sapan J. Pandya 1 hour later

Thanks for your query.

In a disc osteophyte complex, the vertebra edges begin to form bony "spikes" that stick out and cover the disc [which lies between two adjacent vertebrae]. The usual cause is regular "wear and tear" of the spine that's been happening since a long time. Basically, it's called osteoarthritis

The subarachnoid layer covers the brain and spinal cord. The space between the spinal cord and the subarachnoid layer is the subarachnoid space, which is a vacant space. In your case the disc osteophyte complex are bulging into the subarachnoid space. As the space is vacant it is not expected to cause problems.
Intervertebral Foramina is a passage for a spinal nerve and blood vessels that is formed by notches on pedicles of adjacent vertebrae. In your case the disc osteophyte complex bulge leads to decrease in the space meant for passage of the spinal nerves and blood vessels.

After all the technical talks, the meaning of report is that the age related changes in the vertebrae are compressing the spinal nerves. It does seem much related with your neck injury.

I hope I have answered your query adequately.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: What does a disc osteophyte complex mean in the context of neck injury? 4 hours later
Thank you doctor;

Is it possible that this abnormal growth of osteophyte is due to repeated bending and lowering of my neck in my job. Many working days I search vehicles by bending and lowering my neck and climbing up and down large trucks. I am also carrying backpacks with 30-50 pounds of gear off and on all day for 12 hours a day. I alternately on other work days carry a 7 pound weapon around my neck all day while wearing police armor.
I have been doing this job for about 3 years and I am wondering if it is this job that is damaging my neck and causing these abnormalities that make pain and limit my neck movement. My doctor told me that these issues cannot be resolved without some radical surgical intervention to remove the osteophytes.
I never had issues with my neck or back until this year starting around April. One day I recall wearing my weapon all day with police body armor and a heavy helmot then my neck really started hurting.
Answered by Dr. Sapan J. Pandya 1 hour later
Welcome back XXXXXXX

Yes, you are right. There are all chances that these osteophytic changes in your cervical vertebrae are because of carrying heavy weights and bending the neck often.

The changes cannot be reversed, but you can help yourself by performing muscle strengthening exercises which can prevent further degeneration.

Surgery can be reserved as the last option.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: What does a disc osteophyte complex mean in the context of neck injury? 3 hours later
Thank you again doctor;
I am agonizing about if I should stay at my job or not. I dont want to ask legal advice but in a medical standpoint do you think continuing that kind of job will worsen my condition or keep reinjuring my neck? Knowing a little about the future will help me make a decision. I have another question and that is how can I prevent more osteophytes from forming, or the present ones from growing larger? XXXXXXX
Answered by Dr. Sapan J. Pandya 4 hours later
Thanks for your query.

Yes, you may think about changing your work profile. Constant lifting of heavy weights and bending of your neck may worsen your condition and cause recurring injury. Your injury can be classified as REPETITIVE STRESS INJURY.

You may prevent more osteophytes from growing by avoiding repeated injury and misuse of spine especially neck.

Hope this answers your query
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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