MRIs performed on different machines can yield different views. If any of the MRIs were on an “open” scanner, these images will be poor and either over or underestimate the pathology. Always try to obtain scans on a “stronger” machine (measured by tesla strength), even if you have to have a sedative to complete the scan. 1.5 tesla is the minimum strength but 3.0 is better. The “open machines” rate as 0.3 tesla strength.
Radiologists also “read” scans differently as some values are open to interpretation. “Moderate” narrowing to some would be “severe” to others.
You have degenerative changes throughout your spine. This is not unexpected as the spine unfortunately does not stay pristine throughout our life. Back and or neck pain can occur from degenerative changes of the discs and arm and or leg pain occurs from compression of the nerves in the exit zone (foramen) from bone spurs.
You might have central cord compression in your neck. The presence of central compression is unclear (as you note) as some MRIs note this finding and other do not. Check the chapter for myelopathy on the website to see if you have symptoms of this disorder.
I’m sure this sounds strange to you but some patients develop hypersensitivity to pain and the pain becomes magnified. This can occur with depression or the onset of fibromyalgia although these disorders do not have to be present for the presence of pain hypersensitivity.
You need a good spine surgeon to take a long look at you and probably a pain specialist also.
Donald Corenman, MD, DC is a highly-regarded spine surgeon, considered an expert in the area of neck and back pain. Trained as both a Medical Doctor and Doctor of Chiropractic, Dr. Corenman earned academic appointments as Clinical Assistant Professor and Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, and his research on spine surgery and rehabilitation has resulted in the publication of multiple peer-reviewed articles and two books.