Seeing a Physical Therapist First and Avoiding an MRI for Work-Related Lower Back Pain Will Often Lead to Better Outcomes
Of all regions of the body, the spine is associated with a much higher amount of pain than anywhere else. In fact, low back pain ranks second only behind the common cold for reasons to visit a doctor. Up to 80% of the general population will experience at least one episode of low back pain in their lives, so if your back is bothering you right now, you’re far from alone. If you’ve experienced a work-related injury, and are looking want an MRI for lower back pain in Visalia, read on. We think you will find this information valuable.
Lower Back Pain is a Common Work-Related Injury
For the majority of individuals with a history of low back pain, it’s easy to attest to the fact that the pain usually makes it more difficult to complete everyday tasks that you normally complete without even thinking about. It’s for this reason—and particularly when the pain is more intense—that low back pain is also one of the leading reasons that people miss work due to disability.
Low back pain can develop over time in a gradual manner or it may come about suddenly. For some, this leads to symptoms on a nearly constant basis, while for others, symptoms only arise every so often. Symptoms vary in each individual, but typically include the following: pain, tenderness and/or stiffness in the lower back, difficulty bending, lifting or twisting, weak or tired legs, difficulty sitting or standing for extended periods, and pain that spreads to the buttocks or legs.
False Positives with MRI’s are Common…Don’t Get Labelled as Having a Problem When It Doesn’t Exist
When an episode of low back pain first strikes, it’s categorized as acute, which is what most individuals experience. Of those who experience a work-related back injury, many decide to seek out treatment for this pain… many go straight to their doctor for an evaluation and advice on what to do next. Unfortunately, this decision can prove to have some consequences that you might not expect. Some doctors will order additional tests like an MRI to better visualize what may be affecting your spine. But often times, the results from these tests will not help to improve the quality of treatment, and can instead lead to risky interventions like surgery.
To illustrate what may happen if you see a doctor first, one study investigated the effect of having an MRI on patients with work-related low back pain. Some of their key findings included:
- A high percentage of people studied THAT WERE PAIN FREE, had a positive MRI
- Reference here
- Having an MRI was associated with a worse outcome in all patients who had one
- Patients who had an MRI spent between $12,948-$13,816 more on medical costs than those who did not
- Click here for the Reference
Costs are generally higher in patients who have an MRI because not only is the test itself expensive, but these patients are also more likely to be instructed to have treatments like surgery based on their results, which comes with its own set of risks. But there’s a much easier way of avoiding all of these costs in the first place: see a physical therapist first.
MRI Results Alone, Do Not Indicate the Cause of Lower Back Pain
In most cases, a physical therapist won’t send you to have an MRI for low back pain unless they think it’s completely necessary, which is rare. Instead of wasting time, needlessly suffering, waiting for results and being told to have potentially risky treatments first, you should try conservative, natural care first. Our physical therapist will start treatment during your first visit and immediately work towards addressing your problem and alleviating your pain. So for any low back pain that’s hindering your enjoyment of life, see one of our physical therapists for the fastest and safest path to a full recovery of your abilities.