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Do MRI scans help with low back pain?

Updated: Dec 29, 2020

MRI scans allow a specialist to look at the soft tissue around the spine such as discs, nerves and the spinal cord. During an MRI scan you are surrounded by a series of large magnets, and the image produced is effectively a photograph of a cross section of your body. By combining these cross-sections, a computer can create a detailed picture of your anatomy, clearly revealing muscles, ligaments, organs and blood vessels. Your osteopath would only refer you for an MRI scan if you do not respond to conservative treatment and management. An MRI can be useful if there is concern over any trauma to the lower back, loss of bowel or bladder function, numbness, weakness in the limbs, unexplained weight loss or signs of possible infection. MRI’s scan can also be used to diagnose other pathologies throughout the body. It is worth noting that MRI scans are clinically relevant, however, sometimes there is no correlation between the MRI scan report and the pain which the patient is experiencing. This is because the diagnosis of back pain is multi modal and therefore other factors can cause the experience of pain to be amplified, such as: lifestyle factors; stress; sleep; or nutrition, to name but a few.


Low back pain
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