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Spine and Back Health

Herniated disc or bulging disc



i had a fall about a month ago. i fell backwards and landed on my lower back/tail bone area,and whipped my head backwards and then my whole back hit the ground. since then i have had severe headaches,my neck hurts and i have some tingling down my left arm as well as some on my whole left side. but moreso on the left arm.i have had a MRI done and the report showed as follows: c-3,4 moderate disc dehydration with minimal disc height loss and annular bulge. c-4,5 moderate disc dessication and mild disc height loss with posterior endplate ridging,right sided uncinate hypertrophy and annular bulge.spinal canal caliber borderline stenotic.No significant foramanal stenosis. c-5,6 moderate disc dessication and mild disc height loss with posterior endplate ridging,diffuse annular bulge and right lateral uncinate hypertrophy.There also appears to be a right lateral disc protrusion. contributing to mildto moderate stenosis medial aspect of roght C6 neural foramen. spinal canal caliber borderline. c-7-T1 level is normal i have a couple of questions for you and they are as follows: (1) what is the difference between the disc dehydration and disc dessication? (2) is a bulge the same as a herniated disc? (3) how much of this could be attributed to my fall, since i had NO symptoms prior to my accident. (4)could i possibly have a nerve problem since i have numbness(tingling) in my left arm? (5) could disc dehydration come from a fall?and not neccisarily Degeneartive? i ask quetion #5 because i also have a report that shows i hasve some degenerative disc disease in my lower back as well as a bulging disc. but my cervical report does not call it degenerative. i know you can NOT diagnose over the internet, and give medical advise, but in GENERAL what does this stuff mean? thanks alot..


You have several good questions. 1) Dehydration and dessication describe the same process of reduced disc water content usually as a natural aging process.  2) A bulge is a type of mild herniation.  3) Unable to answer this - please ask your treating physician. 4) Possibly or just local effects of the fall.  5) There is absolutely no scientific basis for the fall to cause disc dehydration as this occurs over a period of many years.

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Response by:

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