A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Well, what if a picture costs you $1000’s and a lot of unnecessary pain and strife? That’s exactly what an MRI can do. MRI technology is a relatively new diagnostic tool. Most of us have had an x-ray, but never an MRI. Now that MRI’s are used to quickly take a snapshot of what may be causing something such as low back pain (LBP), an image that reveals a ‘bulge’ is often seen as not only the route cause of the LBP, but is also the trigger that justifies an immediate surgical intervention.

Tim Flynn, PT PHD, recently shared a post on his blog about the overutilization of diagnostic imaging in the management of musculoskeletal disorders. He discusses a recent post in the New England Journal of Medicine that reveals the resolution of a lumbar disc herniation without surgery.

Too often, I have seen this or read stories of patients who were scared into going under the knife when the imaging revealed this ‘abnormality’, only to later realize that not only is the pain still present, but the dissected area has been compromised and weakened, further aggravating their symptoms.

Surgery is a necessary part of physical medicine for good reason. However, so is physical therapy and manual therapy. Too often, images such as this seem to draw a bold line from symptoms to causation, prompting a surgical intervention. This recent post shows how more conservative measures of rehabilitation may reduce a herniation without the need for surgery. Read More.