True or false: You always need a scan or X-ray for back pain

X-rays do not help your pain or assist your recovery and may result in costly interventions. A simple clinical examination is usually enough to identify the small group of people who require scans.

Bulging discs and degenerative changes are commonly found in spinal x-rays and MRI’s, but often occur in pain free individuals as well as those with back pain.

Most people with long-standing low back pain have no significant spinal pathology, so their pain is referred to as ‘non-specific’ low back pain.

For those who do have a scan, findings such as ‘disc degeneration’ are not closely related to their low back pain or disability, and are possibly more related to factors such as genetics rather than spinal overloading.

In fact ‘disc degeneration’ is a normal part of getting older – like grey hair and wrinkles!

Return to newsletter