Herniated disc MRI tests are used to confirm suspected bulging or ruptured disc conditions. It is crucial to use proper diagnostic methods when determining the exact nature of a disc pain syndrome and MRI provides the ideal solution. X-rays are not sufficient to diagnose a disc herniation, since they only accurately depict bone matter and show soft tissues as mere dark spots on the film.
While MRI is a fantastic technology, it can not diagnose anything by itself. It can only image the spine. These images must be interpreted by a radiologist and this evaluation is a highly subjective process. This is why the diagnosis and prognosis for any given patient can vary greatly when reported by several different doctors.
This essay will detail MRI technology and how it can be used during the diagnostic process for intervertebral disc abnormalities. We will look at the benefits of MRI testing, as well as expose the limitations of magnetic resonance imaging.
Herniated Disc MRI Testing
Magnetic resonance imaging is a wonderfully detailed and thorough medical technology which will clearly show every bodily structure in the studied area. The MRI will detail bone conditions, disc conditions and even show possible neurological involvement in back pain patients.
MRI technology will provide an accurate picture of what exactly is going on with any painful herniated disc, including whether or not it is affecting the spinal cord or nerve roots exiting from the neuroforaminal openings.
An MRI is perhaps the very best diagnostic tool in the entire back pain field. But do not forget: MRI results are still open to interpretation. Several doctors might read the exact same results in a variety of ways.
MRI Evaluation of Herniated Discs
Some doctors use herniated disc MRI as an objective fact-finding tool. They simply look at the images and decide whether or not a herniated disc is likely to be the cause of a given pain condition. Most doctors understand that herniations and disc degeneration are a normal part of life for many patients and are not necessarily the cause of any problematic symptoms. These impartial doctors might even be so brave as to advise a patient that a herniated disc exists, but does not seem to be the cause of any painful condition.
However, other doctors take the opportunity to exploit any disc abnormality. They will use the diagnostic nocebo effect to impart fear into the hearts of patients who demonstrate even the mildest asymptomatic disc irregularity.
Telling a 40 year old that they have degeneration in the lumbar spine is like telling them that they are getting some wrinkles and gray hair; nothing more! It would be highly unusual to find an adult without spinal degeneration.
However, this still does not prevent these doctors from using the disc as a scapegoat for pain, regardless of what the actual MRI test reveals. This is and always has been one of my biggest personal complaints with the profit-driven back pain industry. While some doctors are incredible caregivers, others actually seek to manufacture pain as a means of achieving financial success.
Oh yes, I should mention that I have first hand experience with this type of exploitative care. Most of my fear and anxiety was a direct result of the doomsday attitude provided by the diagnostic radiologists and the orthopedic surgeons they worked for. According to some of these doctors, I was on the verge of complete disability and was facing imminent surgery. This was over 25 years ago. Thankfully, I was not as stupid as they must have thought.
My 12 herniations have given my most recent doctors something to think about in trying to determine the origin of my symptoms. Although some of these discs have been singled out as structures of interest due to obvious extreme profiles, I still have no definitive diagnosis. While this might sound horrible, I actually consider it quite a blessing compared to the misdiagnosis I suffered for decades before.
Herniated Disc MRI Warnings
Just because you have a confirmed diagnosis of a herniated disc or degenerative disc disease on an MRI means nothing at all. Most of these confirmed disc herniations cause no pain whatsoever or only cause pain for a short time. If neurological interaction is proven, then it is a completely different story altogether. However, this can only be ascertained using specific types of nerve testing and should always be handled by a qualified neurologist.
Remember to keep objectivity when it comes to diagnosed disc pain. Millions are misdiagnosed every year and wind up on the same path I was forced down during those 18 long years of pursuing unneeded therapy. Eventually after countless unsuccessful attempts at treatment, most patients finally wake up. Why endure that long battle unnecessarily?
Learn the facts about herniated discs now and make up your own mind.
In summary, let’s get to the bottom of the herniated disc MRI topic. I highly recommend undergoing MRI evaluation of any back or neck pain problem. There is just no substitute for the quality of results which can be produced from imaging the spine using MRI.
However, do not allow any subjective and possibly mistaken interpretation of the report to lead you on a fool’s errand in pursuing treatment. Be sure to get several opinions on the results of the test and do your own diligent research before deciding on the type of care, if any, which is needed.