MRI Scans For Back Pain: What Does It Mean?

So picture this, you’ve just had MRI scans for back pain and you’re eagerly waiting for the results, but you’re not sure what an MRI scan really looks for, or what all of the (often scary sounding!) medical terminology means.

It can put you even more on edge when all you really want is for the back pain to go away, get back to your regular routine, and live life to the fullest again!

So I’m here to tell you everything you need to know about MRI scans for back pain, what they tell us about our spines, and simplify all of the medical jargon you could come across.

Where Did MRI Scans For Back Pain Come From And What Do They Mean?

If you can believe it, in the 1800’s back pain was associated with evil spirits this was based on expert opinion and society’s thinking at the time!

Of course, today if you have back pain we know there’s a scientific reason behind it such as lifting heavy objects, overuse injuries, or osteoarthritis. We try to find the cause of it on MRI machines.

Healthcare providers started to look at the human body through X-rays in the 1800s and were able to see the spine leading to cutting-edge treatments for sciatica in the 1930s which involved surgery to remove pressure on the discs in the back.

Over 90 years later, this is still the focus! Despite advancing technology and high-tech scanners, back pain is increasing in the population leading to people not being able to do simple tasks like tie their shoes or pick up their shopping.

And I know that the biggest predictor of back surgery is actually a previous back surgery!

If someone has had back surgery in the past it’s very likely they will need another because of a failed attempt or it’s worked for a while but has provided no permanent solution…

But There Is A Better Way!

MRI scans for back pain tell us a lot about what our spine looks like inside our bodies, but they don’t tell us anything about the pain the patient is going through, after all, you can’t find pain in a picture.

So just because your healthcare professional saw something on your MRI scan, does it mean you’ve found the cause of your pain, you have to cease all activity or stop doing the things you love?

Or can you improve without doing those things regardless if your MRI scan shows something’s wrong? I’m here to tell you that yes, you can!

Let’s Talk About Results

Firstly, let’s not forget that MRI scans for back pain have to be interpreted by humans. Unfortunately, you can show the same MRI scan to ten specialists and you can get 10 different results!

More often than not MRI results aren’t really explained well to people. The terminology used sounds very threatening, things like degenerative disc disease, bulging discs, stenosis, and slipped vertebrae are often reported.

That sounds scary and would understandably make you concerned and fearful for your back health. However, these findings are often normal age-related changes found in people who have absolutely no back pain too, so it may not be as serious as you once thought.

Coming from expert physiotherapists like us that have combined years of experience, the key message here is just because your MRI scan reports findings that does not mean you have to hurt and stop living the life you want.

But What About Things Like Bulging Or Herniated Discs, Isn’t That Serious?

Again, these words are scary to a patient like you who has been waiting for their results and are worried about their lifestyle and independence.

However, as frightening as these terms sound, they’re 100% treatable and will heal!

The discs in your spine hold fluid and the amount of fluid can depend on what time of day it is or when you’re sick with a cold or flu. But these discs can become injured, much like an ankle sprain.

Over time and with treatments like physical therapy, strength training, and continued physical activity the swelling in your discs will calm, movement will improve and you will be able to return to activities you once loved like walking, playing with the grandkids in the garden, or even booking yourself a holiday!

Do You Need Some Expert Advice For Your Back Pain?

Have you been suffering from back pain that’s stopping you from completing daily activities, getting out for your exercise, or making you worry about the future?

You’ve come to the right place!

Here at Pain and Performance Clinic, we’re passionate about getting you back to doing the activities you love without pain and aches taking over your life.

Right now, we’re offering you the chance to book a free back pain telephone consultation where you can speak to one of our expert physiotherapists about your pain problems, ask your important questions and get clarity from the answers!

If you’ve had enough of back pain ruining your life, your independence and your future, arrange a free back pain telephone consultation by calling our Lucan clinic at 086 787 6358.

Other Free Resources For Back Pain

Read Our Blog – What Is Osteopenia/Osteoporosis?

Read Our Blog – Do You Have Pain That Won’t Go Away?

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Tommy Brennan

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Our goal here is to get you out of pain and back to your physical best so that you can enjoy the things that are important to you.  

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