My back hurts...Do I need an MRI?
Updated: Dec 26, 2019
If you have ever experienced back pain, you are not alone. Almost 80% of adults suffer through back pain atleast once in their lifetime. It is indeed as common as the common cold! However, if you have been contemplating or have been guided to get an MRI right away at the slightest sign of pain, stop and think again.
Several studies have shown time and time again that MRI findings can be incidental which means that when an MRI scan would show a herniated, bulging disc or degenerative disc disease but those findings could be completely unrelated to your back pain. In fact, in some studies MRI findings of people who were free of back pain showed all these findings as well. What all this means to you is that in most cases, back pain can be managed successfully through physical therapy and self management from thereon to prevent recurrences.
However, a few rare cases may need an MRI to rule out serious conditions like tumors, infections, fractures etc in which case a qualified physical therapist is very well equipped with the right clinical tools to refer you out in that event.
Getting an MRI first before seeing your physical therapist will increase your overall exposure of unnecessary radiations, increase your overall healthcare costs and also increase your fear and anxiety levels which is on the contrary associated with poorer outcomes for recovery of back pain. In most cases, getting physical therapy first is the best choice and question your provider if they do not refer you to do the same.
“Get Physical therapy first because that MRI might be the most expensive selfie you’ve ever taken”- Mike Eisenhart
Want to know more?
We also know not everyone is ready to commit to regular physical therapy appointments, and that’s why we offer our Free Information Guide! This Guide is for people in our community who want really valuable, expert information about their Back Pain or Sciatica problems. We know it’s confusing out there with all of the information floating around on Google and Facebook, and this is a valuable first step towards getting some real answers for your problem.
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