Do I have degenerative disc disease?
Q: I am 37 years old. I have lower back pain, which is tolerable within limits. I was advised MRI of the LS spine done and the findings are as follows: The shape and alignment of lumbar vertebrae are normal. The curvature is normal. These vertebrae reveal normal signals on T1, T2 and sTIR weighted images. Intervertebral disc at L5-S1 is hypointense on T2 weighted images. Posterior disc bulge is seen at L5-S1 level causing indentation on the epidural fat and both S1 nerve roots. Minimal posterior disc bulge is seen at L4-L5 level. AP diameter of the spinal canal are at the following levels: L1-2 18mm, L2-3 18mm, L3-4 17mm, L4-5 17mm, and L5-S1 13mm. The conus medullaris reveals normal signal characteristics. It ends at L2-L3 level. Fatty elements are seen in filum terminal. Impression: Minimal posterior disc bulge is seen at L1-S1 level causing indentation on both S1 nerve roots. The doctor said not to worry and do yoga. But I have a nagging pain and arthritis runs in the family. Is it the start of degenerative disc disease? In winter it gets bad and I have pain all evening and night and even when I get up in the morning. What precautions should I take? How can I minimise the pain?
A:The MRI findings that you have described do not warrant any surgical intervention, however, you should regularly do some spine exercises after consulting an orthopedic surgeon. You should refrain from lifting heavy weights. It may be an early degenerative disease but if you take proper care of your back, it should not progress.