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Can I have an mri scan so that we can see whats really going on ?

mri scans are increasingly powerful and accurate. A large percentage of the patients that I see will have an mri scan of their spine. But, and this is a big but, the scans will not always tell us what is causing pain.

They are very good at ruling out serious problems.

Such problems include Cancers that can cause back pain but, fortunately, are rarely seen in my clinics.

Other potentially serious problems include infections and fractures.

The majority do not have such issues, they usually have pain associated with an ageing spine.

Sadly most of us, much beyond the age of 25, will have some age related changes in the spine and they will show up on the mri scan.

Such changes are not always associated with pain.

Part of my job is to listen to you and examine your spine. I then correlate those findings with any abnormalities seen on the scan. It is sometimes, but not always, possible to be reasonably certain which abnormality is causing pain and which is not.

You will appreciate that this process is not an exact science and sometimes we proceed with treatment on the basis of a best guess. That might not sound very good but it is the best we can do.

As all treatments carry risk, we only offer them to those patients for whom we have identified a highly likely cause.

For the rest, those without a serious problem and those without an obvious cause for their pain, I may have no answer or easy solution to their pain.

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