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Sore back? Think you need an MRI?

By Tommy


Low back pain is one of the most common conditions we treat as Physiotherapists. It takes a skilled assessment and years of clinical experience to figure out the source of someone's symptoms and how to manage it appropriately. An MRI can be a useful tool to assist with diagnosis however rarely will we send patients for an MRI unless it will change the course of management. Changes on an MRI are completely normal as we age. At 40 years of age greater than 50% of people with healthy "pain free" backs will show signs of disc bulging and degeneration. This is why whenever a new patient walks into the clinic with scans in their hand we assess the individual first before looking at scans or reports.

Here is a graph from a study that looked at low back MRI and CT scan findings of over 2000 healthy "pain free" subjects.