Medical Imaging and Back Pain 🏥
MRIs and other medical imaging are great for RULING OUT any SERIOUS pathology when suspected by a healthcare professional ex) fracture, spinal cord compression, etc.
However, in the absence of red flags🚨, image findings should be interpreted with caution and the results should never be solely deemed the cause of a patient’s back pain.❌
➡Pain is an experience – a complex experience to say the least. Pain is MULTIFACTORIAL and involves many different body systems.
🔹Did you know our thoughts, beliefs, emotions, expectations, previous experiences, and behaviors contribute to our pain experience?
🔹Did you know that stress levels, sleep habits, lack of exercise, and overall health may contribute to our pain experience?
🔹Did you know that herniated and bulging discs heal? (Chiu et al., 2015; Zhong et al., 2017)
🔹Pain is not merely a symptom of what is observed on an image and the presence of pain does not correlate with tissue damage!
“Imaging findings of spine degeneration are present in high proportions of asymptomatic individuals, increasing with age. Many imaging-based degenerative features are likely part of normal aging and unassociated with pain” (Brinjikji et al., 2015).
💸Cost effectiveness: A current study demonstrated that receiving an MRI before starting physical therapy can cost you $4,793 more than receiving PT first (J. M. Fritz, Brennan, & Hunter, 2015). Similarly, receiving PT EARLY after the onset of low back pain will reduce healthcare costs and utilization (Julie M. Fritz, Childs, Wainner, & Flynn, 2012).