Should you be concerned about your scan results?

X-ray of a head with question mark 3d illustration

Scan Results!

Does this sound familiar…you’ve had a pretty bad back pain for some time, so you have been sent for an X-ray or MRI. The results show that you have:

  • A disc bulge
  • A disc protrusion
  • Disc degeneration
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Joint degeneration

Any or all of these can sound quite threatening when coming from your doctor or therapist, but they may not be as significant as you think.

One recent study looked at the prevalence of MRI findings when scanning the lower back amongst all age groups and the results are below.

Prevalence of MRI findings

The most interesting thing to note is that none of these participants (3110 of them) had any symptoms of lower back pain at all!

So what does this all mean?

Changes in the lower back are a natural occurrence during the lifespan and have likely already been there for some time. In addition, research has clearly shown that MRI findings do not predict the likelihood that you will experience back pain, or an increase in back pain, in the future.

What should you do when something appears on your MRI or X-Ray?

Firstly, do not panic! Imaging findings do not necessarily correlate to the symptoms you are feeling or even be the source of your problem. They can simply be incidental findings.

At Lilyfield physiotherapy, our highly trained physiotherapists will take you through a thorough assessment and physical examination and will explain what your scans mean in relation to your symptoms. You will be guided through appropriate treatment options, to best to treat your symptoms.

Don’t sit and worry, call us or book online for an appointment today!

The associations between magnetic resonance imaging findings and low back pain: A 10-year longitudinal analysis (2017) J Tonosu et al


Concerned about your results?