Common Questions about Scans
One of the most common questions I get asked in regards to patients pain is “Do you think I should I get a X-ray, CT or MRI?” and most times my answer is “no”. Why is this the case, well I don’t believe in exposing patient’s to radiation when the results may not change the way I would treat or result in quicker healing times.
Not all findings on imaging are relevant, as I eluded to in my last information post on Osteoarthritis, people can have findings of a condition on a scan and not have any symptoms.
Above is one of my favourite pictures that depicts these. This picture shows the results of different studies that have been conducted on different parts of the body and the results. Lets use the neck as an example, This study took 1,211 people between the ages of 20-70 years old, that had imaging done on their neck. The results shows that 87% of these people were determined to have some sort of disk bulging, with 73.3 to 78% of the subjects in there 20s having some sort of disc bulge. The study concluded that a disc bulge was a frequently finding in asymptomatic subjects, even including those in their 20s, with the number of patients with minor disc bulging increased from age 20 to 50 years.
It is completely possible to have a disc bulge and be asymptomatic (not in any pain). Which is why as an Osteopath we look at the individual and take into consideration your medical history, cause of the injury, ranges of motion that aggravate your pain and a few specific test which begin to give us more information about your injury and what the potential cause could be.
So when do we send off for a scan?
Generally I would refer for some form of injury when there is excessive trauma to an area, or a light trauma with excessive pain with motion to rule out a potential fracture or break. Other time is when there signs or symptoms that i might be concerned about for further damage to the body. Or the body is just not responding that what that it should.
Imaging can be extremely useful, however the results of the image must match the patients compliant.
Written by Brendan Ashman, Osteopathic Manual Practitioner