Why Your MRI DOES NOT Define You

Here at Optimize we know navigating the healthcare world can be scary. Especially when you are not best equipped with the information needed to make a well-informed decision. You may have gotten an MRI and been told about the findings that left you a little confused.

Well, the thing about MRIs is that they don’t do a very good job at telling you why you’re in pain. Don’t get me wrong, they are very useful in diagnosing soft tissue injuries and damage but they are not great at pinpointing the reason for your pain. As healthcare professionals do more research on the science of pain we are realizing more that tissue structure might not have as big of an effect on pain as we thought previously. In fact, we are finding that people with no symptoms often have findings on an MRI that are considered abnormal (see Table 2). As you get older, those findings become more common.

So what does this mean exactly? Basically, a lot of these findings we used to think as being causative of pain are actually just incidental findings. They can be considered wrinkles inside your body, or just a sign of aging. You wouldn’t look at somebody with wrinkles and tell them they have degenerative face disease would you? The above findings are in the spine but the same thing can be found in shoulders and knees as well.

As always, if you have any questions feel free to reach out to us. And follow us on Instragram @OptimizePTP.

Brinjikji W, Luetmer PH, Comstock B, et al. Systematic literature review of imaging features of spinal degeneration in asymptomatic populations. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2015;36(4):811–816. doi:10.3174/ajnr.A4173

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