I am in PAIN! Should I have an X-Ray or MRI?

We see lots of people from many walks of life.  One thing that we consistently see is, Back Pain doesn’t discriminate. We see it in athletes that are working their bodies to their maximum potential and we see it in office workers that have spent hours on Zoom meetings and calls sitting at their desk.

One question that we get a lot is, “Don’t you need to take X-rays or?” or “Shouldn’t I get an MRI?”

Those are relevant questions and understandable concerns. 

The truth is that in most instances, especially when there is an absence of what we call “red flags”, there isn’t great benefit in patient outcomes when any kind of immediate or routine imaging takes place. 

In fact, evidence shows that there is no higher risk to the patient or failure of treatment when images are not immediately taken.  There isn’t even the risk of not identifying a serious condition when during clinical treatment without these images.  In addition to lacking clinical benefit in most cases, it actually increases the risk to patients due to increased radiation exposure.

That is why when there is the absence of a “red flag” when patients present to our office, we usually forego immediate imaging.  But that also doesn’t mean that we never require x-rays in our office either. There are circumstances that will require imaging and if they are necessary during treatment while in our care, we will discuss why the benefits of getting an image outweighs the risks.

If you have any other questions when it comes to getting an x-ray or an MRI, ask. We would be happy to answer your concerns.

Scientific Source:
Andersen, J., 2011. Is Immediate Imaging Important in Managing Low Back Pain?. Journal of Athletic Training, 46(1), pp.99-102

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