For most people looking at an MRI, CT scan or X-Ray means nothing. Reading the report with all the medical jargon can be both confusing and terrifying – especially when you’re in pain and concerned with how your injury will impact your life – work, kids, sport, etc.
These various imaging techniques can be helpful tools but often do not change the management of your injury.
When dealing with an expert in the field such as a physiotherapist, we can often tell you what your scan will find before you have it.
Too many patients come in telling me that their back is broken or damaged, they’ve slipped a disc or their back is out.
They believe their spine is a fragile structure that could crumble at any moment.
If that was the case, they're lucky to make it down the street.
While the big medical words may be big and scary, most of the times they’re not. They are just signs of age. Just like your skin forms wrinkles and your eyesight and hearing change, so does your spine.
Age-related changes may include:
Broad-based disc bulge – seen with increased age and loading
Foraminal stenosis – reduced space for spinal nerves as they exit left and right, may contribute to referred pain.
Disc desiccation – or dehydration of the disc may contribute to local spine stiffness and loss of disk height.
Degenerative disc disease – describes the normal changes that happen to your spinal discs as you age. It can affect the structure and function of the discs and facet joints, sometimes leading to pain. The degree of change is variable and can be impacted by osteoarthritis, genetics and lifestyle (occupation, sports).
The key point: the above are structural findings are related to your bony anatomy.
They DO NOT account for your neuromuscular system – and remember your nervous system is the BOSS.
Even with changes to the structure of your spine, a well-functioning neuromuscular system is what moves you!