“But I have arthritis and degeneration…”

By Jenny Johnson – CC’s Staff

“But I have arthritis and degeneration…”

I frequently find myself reminding my patients that abnormalities on their MRIs are not always the source of their pain. Degenerative changes are frequently found in spinal imaging, but often occur in those without symptoms as well as those with back pain. Studies show that disk degeneration is present in 37% of 20-year-old individuals without symptoms, and up to 96% of 80-year-olds that are asymptomatic[1]. Disk bulges can be present in 30% of 20-year-olds, and up to 84% of 80-year-olds, again, all without symptoms. Although these findings can sometimes explain why a patient is having symptoms (and if severe enough they may need surgical intervention) extreme measures are not always necessary. We have to take those results with a grain of salt and see how they correlate with symptoms before making any assumptions. Many times, physical therapy can help to slow or stop progression of degenerative changes, even though we can’t make them disappear. At CC’s we strive each day to find the true source of pain and dysfunction to help patients feel better, regardless of what your MRI states. Our job is to help you figure that out back pain and our goal is to get you moving on with a pain free life – give us a call when you’re ready to get back on track!

[1] AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2015 April ; 36(4): 811–816. doi:10.3174/ajnr.A4173.

Post Author: Jenny Johnson

Jenny is a DPT, wife, baseball lover, kayaker, dog wrangler, and new mom to sweet baby, Bria.

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