Victim of Medical Imaging Technology
The following is a summary of an article from the Advanced Physical Therapy Education Institute (APTEI). Medical imaging such as x-rays, ultrasounds and MRI’s, are a common and valuable procedures to rule out “serious” medical conditions such as fractures, tumours, dislocations, etc. Once any serious problem has been ruled out, minor findings usually add no significant benefit in explaining most aches and pains. There are many studies that show that from a psychological perspective, when a patient hears about bulging and degenerative discs or arthritis, they will have a higher perception of their pain, and it will be longer lasting. Here are examples that can affect your perception of your pain.
Lumbar spine: Studies show that lumbar disc degeneration is present in 40% of people under the age of 30, and in over 90% of individuals between the ages of 50-55. Another study showed that in asymptomatic adults aged between 20-22yrs of age, almost 50 % had at least one degenerative disc, and 25% had a bulging disc. What this means is that a MRI or x-ray that shows “disc problems” can be a NORMAL age-related change.
Shoulder: MRI studies of adults with no shoulder pain show hat 20% have partial rotator cuff tears, and 15% have full thickness tears. In asymptomatic people over 60 years of age, 50% had rotator cuff tears. A study on professional baseball pitchers revealed that 40% of players who did not have pain also had partial or full thickness rotator cuff tears.
There are similar findings in other areas of the body. The point is that many changes that are seen with medical imaging are normal aging processes, and is not necessarily the main contributor to the pain you are experiencing. These changes do not mean that symptoms cannot be helped. When looking at what may be causing your pain, you must look at the “whole picture”, and develop a strategy that will ultimately allow you to obtain what ever goal you want to achieve.