So your MRI came back.......
Have you every heard those words uttered by your doctor? They can feel a bit daunting and scary. Many times when we have pain and head to the doctor some imaging is done to get a better idea of what is going on. While this is an excellent way to dive deeper and see what is going on sometimes what is found is not always the issue. A whole group of recent studies has done imaging on asymptomatic people and found some pretty interesting things.
In a group of 350 young adults (age 18-22 y/o) 70% of them had findings of some form of spinal abnormality although none had symptoms (Romeo et al). Odd right? Check out our post below for more studies and their interesting findings.
Now with all this being said I want to make it very clear that we are not saying imaging is pointless or should not be done. I just want to caution you to make sure you consider all options before jumping to surgery. Although a diagnosis of a herniated disc can sound quite scary the study I discussed above showed that 49% of the group (late teens and early 20 year olds) have a bulging or herniated disc......with no pain.
My goal with this post is try and decrease fear around imaging findings and urge you to consider other options. Most times MRIs will have multiple findings and not all are necessarily tied to pain. It can cause quite a bit of anxiety to think that you may have multiple issues going on but rest assured, it is much more normal to have "abnormal" findings than it is to have a completely clear scan. In terms of options some surgeons opt to suggest surgery right away but know that you have other options. Physical therapy has been shown to be quite effective at helping avoid surgeries and return people to full function. While this is not always the case it is a great route to explore before jumping under the knife and taking the risks that come along with surgery. Even when physical therapy is not able to prevent surgery, patients go into the surgery stronger and have a quicker recovery after surgery.
So the big take home, know you are not always your scan and know that you have options. Feel free to stop in and see us if you would like to go over your scan and learn how we may be able to help you!
Romeo V, Covello M, Salvatore E, et al. High Prevalence of Spinal Magnetic Resonance Imaging Findings in Asymptomatic Young Adults (18-22 Yrs) Candidate to Air Force Flight.Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2019;44(12):872‐878. doi:10.1097/BRS.0000000000002961