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I thought everyone might benefit from a summary of this article I read. There is a lot of fear that is perpetuated by doctors and patients especially with what MRI's say, so I thought this might add some perspective.
A systematic review (summary of research) showed the following problems showing up in people WITHOUTpain. Again these are positive MRI's in people that have no pain!MRI's show Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) is present in 37% of 20 year old people and increases with age to showing up in 96% of 80 year old people. Remember these people have NO pain!
MRI's show disc bulges are present in 30% of those 20 years old and increases to 84% in those 80 years of age. Again NO pain!!
MRI's show disc protrusion present in 29% in 20 year old individuals up to 43% in 80 year old individuals.No pain!Basically this means that these things show on MRI's whether you have pain or not. If it shows up in people that DON'T have pain, how can you be sure that it is the problem in people that DO have pain? The simple answer is you can't.
I know its hard to not worry about the MRI results but the research shows that what they show is the source of pain. Don't use a static image as the SOLE diagnostic tool of a dynamic system.
I hope that helps provide some perspective.
AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2015 Apr;36(4):811-6. doi: 10.3174/ajnr.A4173. Epub 2014 Nov 27.
Systematic literature review of imaging features of spinal degeneration in asymptomatic populations.
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