Over the past few decades, phenomenal advances have been made in scanning accuracy and provision. In contemporary medicine, it is relatively easy to have an MRI scan performed to advance a diagnosis. They are particularly commonly used to provide a more accurate diagnosis in cases of lower back pain.
Scans can provide specific and incredibly detailed information relating to all manner of acute spinal injuries to assist in explaining the origin of pain.
The only problem here is that the results and potential ensuing treatments are deceiving.
In many studies, it has been found that the results of scans bear none or little relation to the pain patterns uncovered by clinical practitioner findings. Indeed, the majority of completely pain-free and mobile individuals, when scanned, show very similar structural changes and abnormalities as those individuals that report either acute or chronic pain.
One 2016 study in a very reputable journal even found that one individual, when scanned ten times by ten different practitioners, received ten entirely different results and prognostic interpretations.
MRI scanning can be very informative in some cases although there is certainly a huge amount of evidence to suggest that it should never replace conservative treatments such as physiotherapy.
Ultimately the understanding of why your spine has evolved to exist in its current state will inform your self-treatment and progression of treatment. Your spine exists to protect the spinal cord – a bundle of nerves that runs from your brain into your lower body. The reason that there are so many different bones in your spine is purely to provide movement – otherwise, a solid column of muscle would be much more sensible for protection!
So, as is the general advice in The Moballise Physiotherapy Clinic, immobility is the enemy. Movement is your friend, especially movement of the spine. Many studies are now demonstrating that many spinal ‘incidents’ such as disc herniation will reverse themselves very successfully with general continued movement. This appears to be more accurate when the herniation is more severe.
Believe in your body. Move it. Keep it mobile. Mobility is your friend. Immobility is the enemy!