This is a fantastic blog post summarising several articles relating to imaging and the presence of pain.
Medical imaging such as MRI, Ultrasound, X-rays and CT scans are commonly used to help identify pathologies in joints and structures such as the shoulders, hips, knees and spine.
Did you know that most of the findings on these images are NORMAL??? Joint and muscle degeneration is a normal part of the ageing process. The high percentage of the time degenerative change found on scans such as MRI are NOT the causes of pain.
Let’s use the spine as an example. One study (Brinjiki et.al., 2014, American Journal of Neuroradiology) used data from over 3000 Lumbar spine MRIs of healthy people. Of these 3000 scans, a high prevalence showed evidence of lumbar spine “pathology”, such as disc degeneration, facet joint degeneration etc (see image).
- Don’t let a scan define you! Despite all the scary stuff that is written on radiology reports, this only gives one piece of the puzzle when diagnosing injury or pathology. Your imaging results may not be the cause of your pain!
- A good rule of thumb is “treat the patient, not the scan!”
- Degeneration is a normal part of the ageing process! Strength-based resistance training is important as we age to help slow these degenerative effects.
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Credit: Adam Meakins “the sports physio”