When physicians are not able to find the root cause of our chronic pain, the next step is almost always to have an MRI or CT scan.
But should we?
Before blindly being led down the Western medical route this article will help you to question what is right for you.
MRI and CT scans are valuable for diagnosing acute injuries and planning surgeries. However, in cases of chronic pain, such as back pain, relying solely on scans I would suggest is not the best option.
Scans Can Do More Harm Than Good – Find Out Why
This article uncovers three things you should know about MRI and CT scans.
Abnormal MRI Scans Are Normal
Many people don’t realize that it’s normal to have an abnormal MRI scan.
In 2015, a study was done in which 3110 people who had zero pain had an MRI scan.
The results are grouped by age and show what percentage had disk degeneration. The results are mindblowing:
20-year-olds = 37%
50-year-olds = 80%
80-year-olds = 96%
The results clearly show that it’s normal to have abnormalities show up on an MRI scan. And the older you get the more likely you are to find abnormalities.
When medical professionals show patients their abnormal scans without explaining that it is normal to find abnormalities, it can lead to fear which reinforces pain neural pathways that can significantly increase pain.
This begs the question…. When it’s normal to have an abnormal MRI scan why do them at all?
Physicians Receive a Financial Incentive For Ordering Lab Tests
For acute pain following an injury, it’s very useful to have a scan and find out what needs to be done to help the patient heal.
And, when it comes to pain that has persisted for several months after all the obvious treatments there is very little physicians can do. They feel helpless but they have to do something because we as patients continue to go back for answers. And so a scan is ordered and the never-ending search goes on to find the root cause of the pain. What else can they do?
It surprised me to learn that some physicians receive financial incentives for ordering imaging tests and they also generate a good revenue stream for hospitals.
In a 2013 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the results showed that physicians who received revenue-sharing payments ordered imaging tests at a higher rate than those who did not receive such payments.
If ordering imaging tests helps to line the pockets of the physicians and generates revenue for the hospitals then we could argue that there is no harm done.
But unfortunately, there is harm done.
When a patient sees the results of an MRI scan it can cause unnecessary panic and fear. This fear can fuel the pain fear cycle, making pain worse and limiting hope for recovery. This fear can also cause secondary issues for the patient including anxiety and depression.
Seeing Scan Results Leaves Us Powerless
I can vividly remember a surgeon showing me my MRI scan and explaining just how bad it looked. He used language I didn’t understand and to make sure I really understood what he was saying he demonstrated with a model of a spine using a little red disk to show how the bulge was never going to go unless I had surgery.
I left his clinic in a state of shock. I couldn’t believe after so many years of living with pain I wasn’t able to beat this and had to finally resort to surgery.
Once we see the damage on our MRI scans, we understandably feel helpless and are left with little choice but to hand over control to the medical team. This can increase fear and pain, leading to a sense of hopelessness.
What’s The Alternative?
Instead of relying solely on MRI scans for chronic pain, we should consider the bigger picture.
Structural damage is not usually the cause of chronic pain; neural plasticity plays a big role. By understanding the modern science behind pain, how and why neural pathways are misfiring we can learn to reverse this pattern and regain control of our situation and heal our pain.
I suffered years of back pain and many scans, hours of physiotherapy and always bad news from physicians. But once I zoomed out and discovered the root cause of the issue was to do with neuroplasticity I healed in just a few months.
If I can do it, you can too. But not if you keep looking at those scans!
If you’ve been struggling with chronic pain for more than three months, please contact me to find out more about how I can help you get rid of your pain.
I will help you get to the root cause of your pain, teach you practical tools and help you to rewire the pain signals. With the right approach, healing is possible.
If you want to discover if your pain is curable, click here to take our self-assessment quiz today and take the first step towards a pain-free life.