• Dr. Brandon

6 Things you need to know today about MRIs, X-Rays, and Low Back Pain


It’s no secret that anybody dealing with back pain or sciatica would love nothing other than to figure out what is going on and then figure out how to stop it...like fast. Without a doubt, many people you know have gotten MRIs or X-rays and guess what...the doctor found something on them. Usually that’s in the form of bulging discs, degeneration, stenosis, and other long words that it takes a google search just to show you how to say it. Or, you wanted to get an MRI and your insurance told you that you can’t have one until you’ve tried other things out first...mostly Physical Therapy. If that frustrated you, you’re not alone.

What if I told you that the findings on an MRI or X-ray have very little to do with why you hurt?

Here are the 7 things you need to know today about MRIs, X-rays, and low back pain.

MRIs and X Rays don’t show your current pain levels.


Do your pain levels change throughout the day? Even if they go from bad to worse and I take an image of your spine on a bad day, the image will stay the same as on a good day. That is because, barring certain very rare conditions, the degree to which you have either narrowing or a bulge has no impact on your pain levels. Many who get a scan are told there is nothing wrong with their spine but they are in enormous amounts of pain. While others will have a scan, have a bulging disc, but have no pain.


They do not predict future pain levels

This is mainly because pain has many different things that influence it. Injury is only a small part of how we can have pain and it is possible to have injury without pain and it is possible to have pain without injury. In fact, the further you are away from an injury, the less pain is about muscle, joint, or spine issues.

They do not predict what you can do


In fact, many active people when put in an MRI for studies have many things that a doctor would call degeneration, bone spurs, or tears but...they are leading an active lifestyle without pain. This includes running, golfing, tennis, and lifting weights.

They do show

Age related changes


Let’s face it, we all know somebody who looks 20 years younger than they actually are and we also know people who look 20 years older than they actually are. Some of this is down to how they live but it is also just how some bodies show their age. Many of the terms such as degenerative disc disease, spondylosis, and arthritis are a radiologists way of saying that they see your “wrinkles on the inside” . Some have more, some have fewer, but everybody has them and many have no pain in spite of those findings.



They also show findings that would have been there before you had pain and findings that will be there once you are feeling better. What’s more important is that they will generally not impact how your pain is treated if you are with a provider that uses a more conservative approach but could also lead to more invasive tests and treatments that show no better results than conservative treatments do.



In most cases, they give you the green light that it is safe for you to begin activity that actively reduces your pain and begin to build a better and stronger you.








Would you like to learn more? Request my free guide 5 ways to start treating Sciatica and Low Back pain. In it you’ll learn not only 5 things you can do today to start easing sciatica and low back pain but the mistakes that cause back pain to last longer and be more expensive to treat. Request yours below.





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