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Spine and Back Health

Back and neck pain, mri results, and epidural



I suffered disc damage to my cervical spine, and possibly my thoracic spine (though this has not been MRId yet). I have constant pain/numbness in the middle upper thoracic portion of my back, and episodes of pinching in my neck which leads to the left side of my neck being swollen, with myofacial numbness and mild tingling down my left arm. My orthopaedic thinks the thoracic pain is referred pain from disc damage to C5-C6. Results of my MRI are summarized: moderate spondylotic change of C5-C6, worse on the right right sided spurring at C5-C6 Modest spondylotic change at C3-C4 No acute disc herniations are seen The cervicocranial junction appears normal No cervical stenosis, cord or root compression are seen I am currently treated daily with muscle relaxants to calm the muscle spasming in the thoracic back. My questions are: 1) I am unclear as to the actual meaning of my MRI results. 2) is the pain/numbness in the mid-and-upper-thoracic referred pain or could it be a result of thoracic disc damage as well? 3)My ortho wants to perform a cervical epidural injection. Is this a procedure that typically helps someone with C5-C6 damage and radiating pain into the thoracic area? Thank you.


Your MRI results indicate degenerative disc changes at C5/6 and C3/4 with apparently no significant nerve root compression. Further questions about this MRI are best discussed in person with your spine specialist. Your described area of pain is often referred pain and not well treated by surgery. Pain management such as cervical epidural injections can often be helpful, along with a program of weight loss and exercise.

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Response by:

Anthony Guanciale, MD
Associate Professor and Director, Division of Spine Surgery
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati