Physiotherapists are often asked by patients if they need further investigations such as X-ray or MRI scan to help understand and treat their pain or decreased function. The simple answer is that further investigations are not always needed and can in some instances be counterproductive.
X-rays have been invaluable to health care since they were discovered in the late 1800s. While they may be considered routine practice by some, the tests may also reveal findings not accountable for your symptoms.
There a is limited link between MRI/X-ray findings and what a person might be feeling. For example studies have shown disc issues and wear and tear among others commonly found in people without any pain and conversely those in great pain can have little findings on investigation.
Findings that are perhaps unrelated can lead to needless worry and unnecessary follow-up tests and procedures, such as injections or sometimes even surgery.
Inconsequential structural findings on investigations can influence how a person may live their life and make them feel vulnerable to moving and completing everyday tasks.
Routinely ordering x-rays for back pain is a practice that research shows as being of little or no value. In fact most episodes of back pain can resolve within a few days or several weeks with simple interventions.
As part of the initial assessment physiotherapists, take a thorough history and complete a physical exam. They do so to answer important questions that help determine a root cause for pain and to look for any warning signs.
There is small steps that can start to make you feel much better these may include:
Using heat to relax muscles
Undertaking gentle spinal mobility exercises
Finding positions that allow comfortable rest and sleep
Physiotherapy treatment if symptoms worsen or do not resolve
If you are worried about pain or something found on a scan or X-ray then speak to the physiotherapists at The Physiotherapy Place and see what is contributing to your pain and what they can do to help.