Medical Imaging is very valuable in the health care profession to help identify serious injury and medical conditions. It can give explicit details about the inside of our body that we otherwise cannot see and with us humans being an extremely complicated species, this is amazing! Right??
Well…. We do also have to factor in another consideration when using this valuable tool.
It is possible that advanced medical imaging may give us too much information. Yes, that’s right, too much.
Once we are able to rule out serious injury, imaging can in many cases can provide very useful health information however, in some cases, it can be detrimental to patient’s healing.
Some studies support that they can be harmful psychologically. How is that possible you ask? Reports are able to tell a patient they have arthritis, degeneration, disc bulge etc., and people who have these types of image reporting have been shown to have more doctors’ visits, report more pain and disability and have a lower sense of well-being.
That said, I truly value the results of medical imaging that patients have done, if it’s associated with the pain being presented to me.
Here are some facts to be aware of so that you can receive your imaging results with a more positive outlook…
⁃ One study showed that in HEALTHY young adults 20-22 yrs old with NO back pain, had at least one degenerated disc and 25% of them had bulging discs.
⁃ Another MRI study of HEALTHY adults found 47% had disc degeneration, 53% had disc bulges, 58% had disc tears….NO PAIN
⁃ This MRI study found that 98% of all men and women with NO neck pain had degeneration changes in their neck.
⁃ One MRI study showed 77% of hockey players with NO pain had hip and groin abnormalities.
⁃ A study on knees, showed up to 85% of adults with NO knee pain, had knee arthritis shown on their X-rays.
⁃ In MRI studies of adults age 60 and older with NO shoulder pain, 50% of them had rotator cuff tears…. they didn’t even know!
So, you may come in to see your WIN Health Care Provider with back pain and an MRI to accompany it. The MRI may show a degeneration in the spine, BUT it may not be the source of your pain. On the other hand, the discogenic pain that you do present with, may not show on your testing.
When you get imaging done, allow a healthcare professional to explain the results. Your imaging just may not pertain to the pain you walked in the door with. In addition, talking with us about the whole picture of your health, imaging results and health concerns together, can also save you a great deal of worry…because you may be more normal than you think!!
This article is based on the research of Barham Jam, Founder and Chief Instructor at Advanced Physical Therapy Education Institute (www.aptei.ca).