So if you suffer from lower back or knee pain, whether you’ve had a MRI or not, what should you do?
Maybe running to your doctor to get an MRI is not the most important thing.
What does getting an MRI tell you?
It will tell you about the symptom. The symptom might be showing up as arthritis or a disc herniation or a facet joint problem or meniscus tear or maybe nothing shows up and you are told it’s just muscles spasms or stress.
We all know what symptoms are: they are the outward expression of something internally going on. One of the most common symptoms we have all experienced is a runny nose. We can take something to stop the runny nose but why is our nose running? It could mean we have a bacterial infection or it could be a viral infection. Or it could be we were running outside in the cold morning air and nothing more. Treatments for the bacterial infection are different than for the viral infection and very different for the run outside. Using the incorrect treatment can result in no change to the symptom or worse yet it could cause a new symptom that might be worse than the original (and even contribute to the antibiotic resistance strains of bacteria that has been building over the last couple decades).
Another great example is a headache. A brain tumor can cause a headache, but it’s not very common obviously. But what if we treated all headaches like they were caused by a tumor. We’d be slicing and dicing millions of peoples brains every year and they’d still have their headache (and less brain cells – hopefully not important ones!) because it was not caused by a tumor but by drinking too much wine, not drinking enough water, forgetting to eat for 10 hours, or slouching at work all day.
It is easy to see how this would be crazy, but that’s what surgery is turning into in this country.
You go to your doctor and tell them your back hurts and your doctor says:
“You have back pain? Let’s do an MRI.”
When the results come back, they say:
“Oh, look, a little herniation. We can fix that with surgery.”
The person thinks the herniation is the problem, but comes out of surgery and 2 weeks later the pain returns. What’s going on?
Same goes for knees, hips, feet, shoulders, wrists, etc. We have become quicker and quicker to use our high-tech (and high cost) surgery to try to fix the symptom, without looking for the cause or source of the problem.
The key to discovering the source of the problem? Ask more questions.
- Why did the disc herniate?
- If the arthritis is because of my age, why does only my right hip hurt?
- If running caused my meniscus in my knees to wear away, why don’t all runners have the same problem?
- If I have surgery, what will guarantee that the problem doesn’t come back again?
- Why did the rotator cuff tear?
- If it is genetic, why does only one of my siblings have the same problem and the other two don’t?
Then follow your intuition. Your gut feeling. And what makes common sense.
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