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Why MRI and X-Rays are Ineffective in Diagnosing 85% of Back Pain Cases

ineffectiveness of MRI and x-ray in diagnosing back pain cases

When you start to experience back pain, you may take some Aspirin and hope it goes away shortly. But after a few days, the pain is still there, so you decide to see your doctor. After you finish explaining your symptoms, your doctor recommends one of these two actions: getting an x-ray or an MRI scan. Sound familiar?

About two thirds of adults suffer from low back pain at some time in their lives, and low back pain is the second most common symptom that sends people to the doctor (upper respiratory problems are first).

MRI and X-Rays are miracle technology, no doubt about it - the ability to get clear images of soft tissues deep inside the body is incredibly valuable and extremely tempting for everyone involved. However, a new study suggests that x-rays and MRIs are ineffective in combating low back pain. Low back pain experts have long understood that you simply cannot reliably diagnose low back pain either with MRI, or with X-ray.

Why X-Rays and MRIs May Be Ineffective?

In over 85% of back pain cases, the root cause of the problem however lies in the muscle. The bones, disc and nerves in the spine are protected by load bearing network of muscles carrying 70% of the weight of the back, while only 30% is borne by the bones. When muscle tissue is unable to support the back, bones are forced to take additional load that’s where the problem begins.

Conventional imaging tests like the MRI scan and X-Rays are used to examine the bones and joints in your spine but suffer limited insight into muscle functionality and strength. The majority of back pain comes from musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), which are treatable through medication and physical therapy. MRI is frequently used to diagnose back pain, yet it is overly sensitive in identifying the cause unless it correlates with an objective clinical exam. X-rays and MRIs are ineffective in visualizing any soft tissue condition, such as back muscle pain, piriformis syndrome or fibromyalgia. Many back pain cases remain undiagnosed and are termed ‘non specific back pain’.

Spine published a study of 148 patients; all were asymptomatic, yet an MRI scan showed that 83% had moderate desiccation of one or more discs, that 64% had one or more bulging discs and that 32% had at least one disc protrusion. The second study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1994, found that only 36% of 98 asymptomatic subjects had normal test results from an MRI.

The evidence indicates that it is common for patients who experience back pain to have abnormal MRI scans, regardless of their condition.

Revisions To Diagnostic Policies

Recent revisions to diagnostic policy instituted by many major medical associations have advised doctors to stop relying exclusively on X-Ray or MRI to diagnose back pain directly, since most structural irregularities demonstrate no link to the existence of back ache and must always be studied to be sure conclusive proof of a pathological process.

So if X-Rays and MRIs are ineffective in combating back pain, why do doctors recommend it to so many patients? One of the biggest reasons why doctors recommend older patients receiving an X-Ray or MRI is because it is one of the easiest ways to pinpoint any underlying problems that may be threatening the patient’s overall health (even though there is not strong evidence to support this idea). Another reason is because these scans are typically covered by Medicare, which cancels out the cost factor that would concern some patients.

Even though this study suggests that X-Rays and MRIs are ineffective, this does not completely disregard the benefits of receiving one of these scans – it simply serves as a reminder that generally accepted medical practices may not always be the best course of action. Now you must be confused whether to get MRI or X-Rays done for back pain diagnosis and treatment. But you can always get yourself timely diagnosed by getting Bone Panel Test done from 3HCare as 3hCare offers you the best health check-up packages in Delhi NCR. Also, if you are looking for Free health check-up in Delhi, keep visiting

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