Spine Scans – Are you being told the truth?

Often back pain is very confusing and distressing for sufferers and to reduce worry and distress imaging such as X-Rays, CT Scans or MRIs are ordered “just to be sure”.  But is this helping or hindering us?


Latest Evidence

It is very important to note only 5-10% of scans have findings that are linked to the pain you feel.


Findings on scans are highly common in people of all ages with or without back pain, for 90% of us the findings are not relevant to our pain.

  • This doesn’t mean you don’t have pain or “the pain is in your head”. The muscle tissue and joints for example may be very sensitive but the way they look on a scan is not always related to the pain.


There is very strong evidence that the findings on scans do not predict your outcome. However, information you are given can have a negative effect.

  • Words or phrases such as ‘degeneration’, ‘disc bulge’, ‘protrusion’, ‘wear and tear’, ‘slipped’, ‘instability’ can cause further worry, distress and make you want to stop doing the things you enjoy doing.
  • Often being given sensible information and understanding the findings can reduce distress, worry and allow you to return to your enjoyable activities.


Very often the scan findings are the same even after your pain resolves

  • This is often the case with a ‘disc bulge or protrusion’ a person’s back pain resolves and they have returned to normal life but the ‘bulge’ is still evident on the scan – indicating no link with the pain!


An experienced health practitioner, through a skilled examination can work out if you require a scan or further testing for your specific problem.

If you are having trouble making sense of your scan findings, information provided to you or would like a second opinion as Specialist Physiotherapists we are very highly experienced at assessing and interpreting this information. We endeavor to provide you with clear and easy to understand information to allow you to move forward.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact us at Quest Specialist Physiotherapy.