Concerned about your Spine MRI findings?

Here’s a little bit of sound advice about what the report says.


MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is the gold standard tool to assist clinicians (doctors/consultants/physios) in diagnosing the root cause of your pain. MRI uses energy from strong magnets to create pictures of an area of the body. Very useful! However, there are often findings in MRI’s that may not relate to your pain but can cause stress to hear that they are present. Reports can indicate degenerative discs, disc bulges, tendon tears, cartilage tears etc. Let your clinician guide you and tell you what’s relevant to your pain from your findings. Some of these findings may have no link or relevance to your pain.


A few samples of studies done that show that not all disc issues relate to pain!


Studies have shown that lumbar (lower back) disc degeneration is present in 40% of individuals under the age of 30 and present in over 90% of those between the ages of 50-55.


Another study showed that of a group of adults aged 20-22 years with no lower back pain 48% had at least one degenerated disc and 25% had at least one bulging disc.


An MRI study of healthy adults found that 98% men and women with no neck pain but lower back degenerative discs had evidence of degenerative changes in their cervical (neck) discs.


Don’t panic if your scan report shows ‘problems’ with your discs, these problems may be age related changes that have no direct link to your pain. Don’t forget the internet is the most potent anxiety provoking system ever devised when it comes to healthcare! If in doubt, discuss your scan findings with your Consultant, Doctor or Physiotherapist. Medical imaging is only one piece of the puzzle of pain. You – the person experiencing pain, your healthcare team including your physiotherapist must look at the entire picture that include the whole person and his/her own history. Factors that include body, mind, and environmental influences are important pieces towards health and restoration of movement. Physiotherapists are here to work with you to reduce your pain and improve your quality of life.