The Love/Hate Relationship with Imaging

Oh imaging…. it’s a blessing and a curse. Since we don’t have x-ray vision (how amazing would that be!), we have to rely on imaging to know what is going inside your body. As humans, we wish our bodies were just like a car… if a part is chipped, cracked, broken, torn, frayed, that’s the reason why you are having problems!! Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

In obvious circumstances such as a boney fracture/torn tendon/ligament POST INJURY, birth defect, heart function change, or stroke, imaging is very useful to know what type of treatments to use for your care. However, when it comes to chronic pain or acute pain that came out of nowhere… imaging doesn’t really help us understand the why.

In a recent article in the journal Skeletal Radiology, 97% of ASYMPTOMATIC people in the sedentary adult population showed knee joint “abnormalities” along with 30% of those knees to have a meniscal tear. And yet… those people in the study did not have any pain or weakness.

In another recent article in the Global Spine Journal, the results from the study showed “that there is no statistical association between the size of a lumbar disc herniation and the likelihood that a patient will fail conservative treatment” even with MRI confirmed disc bulging and radicular symptoms. The researchers found that only 8.7% of patients required lumbar surgery and that the other 91.3% recovered with conservative treatment.

What these research articles demonstrate is that imaging doesn’t always give us the full picture. It acknowledges that there is a change from “normal” and it could have changed due to genetics, previous injuries, inflammation, altered biomechanics, stress, and normal aging processes. It demonstrates that the body is resilient and can adapt to changes over time.

We suggest finding medical practitioners and/or body healers to look at your body and function as a whole unit to find ways to improve your health, awareness, and movement even if you aren’t experiencing pain.