Here’s news about MRI scans and low back pain.
Tara Parker-Pope reported on interesting information about low back pain, X-rays and MRIs. In her article, she reports that many people who have back pain undergo diagnostic tests that are not helpful. Sometimes, as a result of these tests, people undergo treatment that may not be necessary. It can be expensive as well as painful.
Ms. Parker-Pope cites a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine. This study showed that 2 out of 3 people scanned with MRI showed evidence of disk problems. It concluded: Given the high prevalence of these findings and of back pain, the discovery by MRI of bulges or protrusions in people with low back pain may frequently be coincidental. Indeed; the people scanned were not in pain.
Ms. Parker-Pope also writes about another study, this one, published in The Lancet.
The report states in part: “Analysis of results from the 6 included studies shows that lumbar imaging for low back pain without features suggestive of a serious underlying condition does not, on average, improve clinical outcomes. This finding particularly applies to patients with acute or subacute, non-specific low back pain evaluated in primary care settings.”
At the same time, most people suffer with back pain at some point in time. According to Tara Parker-Pope’s article, that number is roughly two-thirds of us.
What is a person to do?
A study published in the British Medical Journal on Aug. 19, 2008, shows 86% reduction in number of days in pain per month following 24 lessons in the Alexander Technique. Patients went from 21 days of pain per month down to 3 days of pain.
Check it out: http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/337/aug19_2/a884