Back pain? Skip the MRI

Last month, I told you about 10 medical tests you may be better off without. Number seven on that list was radiologic screening for back pain.

Now a new study from Seattle shows that getting an MRI may actually prolong back pain—and even increase “disability”! How does doing a useless test actually become harmful?

Well, besides the obvious problem of having to wait longer for treatment, researchers suggest that the MRIs may be uncovering other “conditions.” Conditions that then “require” treatment—whether or not they’re causing symptoms (essentially “false positives”). So then patients are subjected  to further useless tests and counter-productive procedures, potentially getting trapped in a vicious cycle. Still with no help for the original—and REAL—problem of back pain.

Meanwhile, hospitals and health systems that have actually paid attention to the studies on back pain over the past 15 years (as I noted last month) are skipping the MRIs—and sending patients for spinal manual therapy or physical therapy—the very same day.

If you experience back pain go directly to the nearest good physical therapist or chiropractor for spinal manual therapy. You will most likely be walking, or running, out of there in no time.