Do I need an MRI? | Total Performance Physical Therapy

Do I need an MRI?

June 6, 2019

When you go to the doctor’s office complaining of pain, it is not uncommon for them to write you a script for an X-ray, MRI, or other medical imaging. When it comes to ordering an image, one of the most important questions a medical provider should ask is, “ Will information from an image change the plan of care or result in improved outcomes for the patient?”  Many times the answer is no.

X-rays, MRIs and other medical imaging should be ordered when red flags are present.  Red flags are indications that a more serious medical condition exists and requires further medical work up and treatment. As the patient, it is important to know that your physicians and physical therapists are trained in school to monitor for these red flags and refer out for further work up when need. Typically, imaging is ordered without the presence of red flags in the hopes of better understanding where your pain is coming from. Many times though, the X-ray, MRI, or other medical imaging is either unremarkable or may show some natural aging changes in the body like arthritis and degenerative discs. It is important to note, that these findings are not always linked to the pain you are experiencing.

There have been countless studies examining the relationship between what is found on imaging and the pain people are experiencing. Here a few facts to keep in mind, the next time you have an image done:

Remember, as your body undergoes the natural aging process, many of the changes seen on a medical image are normal and do not mean you will have an increased likelihood in experiencing pain or having permanent pain. The pain you are experiencing may be caused by issues that cannot be picked up on imaging like:

Whether the pain you are experiencing is caused by what is seen on the image or not, physical therapist are here to help you manage and resolve your pain.   If you had imaging done with no real answers and are still having pain, call Total Performance physical therapy today to make an appointment with one of our physical therapists!

 

  1. Bedson J, Croft PR. The discordance between clinical and radiographic knee osteoarthritis: A systematic search and summary of the literature.BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. 2008;9:1-11.http://search.ebscohost.com.libproxy.temple.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=35702289&site=ehost-live&scope=site. doi: 10.1186/1471-2474-9-116.
  2. Sher JS, Uribe JW, Posada A, Murphy BJ, Zlatkin MB. Abnormal findings on magnetic resonance images of asymptomatic shoulders.J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1995;77(1):10-15.http://search.ebscohost.com.libproxy.temple.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=cmedm&AN=7822341&site=ehost-live&scope=site.
  3. Takatalo J, Karppinen J, Niinimäki J, et al. Prevalence of degenerative imaging findings in lumbar magnetic resonance imaging among young adults.Spine. 2009;34(16):1716-1721.http://search.ebscohost.com.libproxy.temple.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=cin20&AN=2010532778&site=ehost-live&scope=site. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e3181ac5fec.