This is a good question. So often I hear my patients tell me they need to get an MRI done first, so it will help me when treating them. Or they want to send me their MRI results, thinking it might help me in my treatment plan. Lets look at the research on MRI’s.
To summarize what I found, you could take 100 people without any pain or problems, They are fully functional. If these fully functional people get imaging, 60-80% of them will show problems such as degeneration, herniated disc, mensical tears in the knees, Rotator cuff tears in the shoulder, and other common conditions. These people have no pain or problems. So what happens when you have pain? You will mostly likely show something, but you will also most likely show something before you had any pain or problems.
MRI’s are a picture. They do not show where the source of the pain is located. It is like taking a picture of a phone. Do you know if it rings, does it have enough power, is it turned on, Can it turn on? You do not know if it works because it is just a picture. The only time I refer back to the doctor to get further testing such as an MRI, is if there are red flags or if they have plateaued in progress. So don’t waste your money on imaging initially.
Ask the doctor’s how getting an MRI going to change your treatment plan? Find a good physical therapist that specializes in getting to the source of the pain with a proper diagnosis by asking you good questions and moving you. As you can see with our other posts, where you pain is located is not always where the source of the problem is located. And once you take care of the pain, the next steps are then getting you back to what you love to do safely.
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