When Should I have an MRI……?

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On average around 9 times out of 10 when a patient comes to us with a specific problem we have been able to identify the cause of the injury WITHOUT an MRI.  Physiotherapists are trained in evidence-based questions, which include queries regarding your symptoms, your training and your day-to-day living.  By going though a comprehensive physical examination, palpating the area that hurts, moving your joints through different positions, or having you perform certain movements and checking for pain or problems with your alignment we are able to distinguish 90% of your issues causing you pain.  And you guessed it……All without an MRI! 

In the case below the information provided by an MRI would not change the treatment:

You have recently begun training for a marathon and developed pain on the bottom of your foot.  The pain is worse in the morning when you first climb out of bed, and when your Physio presses near your heel you have a stab-like pain sensation.  This pattern clearly points to plantar fasciitis and inflammation of the tough fibrous band of tissue along the bottom of your foot that can occur when you ramp up your training too quickly.  An MRI could confirm this diagnosis of plantar fasciitis, however you have now spent hundreds of dollars, when either way the treatment of this condition would remain the same (Physiotherapy, orthotics, tape and a splint to stretch your foot at night.)

How an MRI can provide false readings

Every body is built a little differently, bones and other structures change with age.  MRI’s are extremely detailed which can reveal abnormalities that are not actually the cause of your symptoms.  A recent review article from Dr. McCormick had found that 37% of 20 year olds and 96% of 80 year olds without lower back pain have evidence of disc deterioration shown on MRI scans.  This suggests changes in your spine may in fact be a sign of ageing rather then a medical condition that require treatment.

MRI’s do have their place in the medical world

Sudden traumatic injuries such a sever fall or a car accident would require immediate scanning.  For other non fatal injuries you need to ask your doctor this key question to help determine if an MRI is right for you:  Would the results of an MRI potentially change my treatment plan?

If the answer is yes, have the scan.  If the answer is no, you can skip the time and expense of an MRI and focus your effort on a more conservative approach through Physiotherapy treatment, strengthening, stretching and any other therapies your health care provider suggests.

MRI or Physio?

Are you suffering from an undiagnosed pain but do not want to spend hundreds of dollars on a MRI scan?  Book an appointment today with one of our Qualified Physiotherapists who can carry out a thorough assessment, created an individual treatment plan and save you the money and worry of an MRI when 9 times out of 10 it’s not required.

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