Monday, March 7, 2011 at 12:00PM
Most people who have experienced low back pain want to get better as fast as possible. Who wouldn't? Do X-rays and MRI or CTscans help speed up the process and get you back on your feet faster?
A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that these tests rarely improve outcomes. The authors suggest that they do not help and they add cost and potential for harm (exposure to radiation). They state that testing may even lead to unnecessary procedures or surgeries as the tests often pick up non-symptomatic findings. They recommend that imaging be performed only when there are added risk factors. These factors may include a history of cancer or osteoporosis.
So although back pain makes you want an answer NOW, X-rays or other tests may not give you the answers you need to get better, and may lighten your pocketbook in the process. The good news is that most back pain gets better on it's own or with conservative treatment (such as Physical Therapy). Talk with your Doctor to see if imaging is needed.