More on MRIs and back pain

For those who still think MRI’s are the answer to the mystery of their back pain:

“In a 1994 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a group of researchers imaged the spinal regions of ninety-eight people who had no back pain or back-related problems. The pictures were then sent to doctors who didn’t know that the patients weren’t in pain. The result was shocking: the doctors reported that two-thirds of these normal patients exhibited “serious problems” such as bulging, protruding, or herniated discs. In 38 percent of these patients, the MRI revealed multiple damaged discs. Nearly 90 percent of these patients exhibited some form of “disc degeneration.” These structural abnormalities are often used to justify surgery, and yet nobody would advocate surgery for people without pain. The study concluded that, in most cases, “the discovery by MRI of bulges or protrusions in people with low back pain may be coincidental.”

How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer, Page 162-163

There is also this brilliant gem in the same book:

“Forget about your MRI. What it’s showing you is probably not important.” ~Dr. Sean Mackey, Professor of at Stanford School of Medicine and associate director of the hospital’s pain-management division.

How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer, Page 163


About the Author

Matt Hsu is a trainer and orthopedic massage therapist. He fought a long battle with chronic pain all over his body and won. He blends the principles he learned in his journey, empirical observations with clients, and relevant research to help others get their lives back.

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