Chiropractic Examination

Why Do I Need an X-ray or MRI for Lower Back Pain El Paso, TX?

Share

Low back pain is one of the most common ailments for people visiting a doctor or an urgent care clinic. When the back pain becomes intense it can get you thinking something is seriously wrong with your back. The doctor might offer an x-ray or MRI scan to put your concerns at ease.

Fortunately, most cases for low back pain even acute pain improve within days or a few weeks. Most cases are remedied with chiropractic, physical therapy, heat/ice therapy and rest. And a lot of these cases do not require any form of spinal imaging. However, there are those reasons when X-ray, MRI, CT scans are necessary to figure out what’s going on.

  • Strained muscle
  • Sprained ligament
  • Poor posture

These are typical causes of low back pain that can be painful and limit activities.

 

 

Back Pain Lasting Longer Than 2/3 Weeks

Subacute pain lasts between 4 and 12 weeks while chronic back pain lasts 3 months or longer. These are not indications of a serious low spinal condition.

Less than 1% of people with low back pain are diagnosed with a condition that may require spine surgery like:

 

X-rays or MRI’s for Diagnosing Low Back Pain

Doctors may recommend an x-ray or MRI if the low back pain was from a traumatic injury, like a:

  • Slip
  • Fall
  • Automobile accident

Other potential causes of low back pain may warrant medical imaging immediately or later on.

The diagnostic process starts with the evaluation of the low back symptoms and how they relate to what was found during the:

  • Physical exam
  • Neurological exam
  • Medical history

A doctor utilizes these results to figure out whether the need for spinal imaging is necessary, along with the type of imaging test,  x-ray or MRI and the timing to confirm a diagnosis.

A Low Back X-Ray/MRI

X-ray spinal imaging is best at detecting bony structural problems but not so great with soft tissue injuries. There are X-ray series that may be performed to diagnose vertebral compression fractures like.

  • Anterior
  • Posterior
  • Lateral views

MRI is a radiation-free test. MRI’s create 3-D anatomical views of the spinal bones and soft tissues. A contrast dye like gadolinium is used to enhance and improve the quality of the images. The contrast is injected through an intravenous line in your hand or arm before or during the test. An MRI can evaluate neurological symptoms, like radiating pain or pain that develops after being diagnosed with cancer.

Symptoms, Co-existing Medical Diagnoses, and Conditions that may Require Spine Imaging

Neurological symptoms

  • Low back pain that radiates, fans out or downward into the buttocks, legs, and feet
  • Abnormal reflexes in the lower body can indicate nerve disruption
  • Numbness, tingling, and possibly weakness develop
  • Inability to lift your foot aka foot drop

Co-existing medical diagnoses and conditions

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Fever
  • Osteoporosis
  • Previous spinal fracture
  • Spine surgery
  • Recent infection
  • Immunosuppressant medication use
  • Corticosteroid medication
  • Weight loss

 

X-ray Radiation Exposure

When undergoing an x-ray, the radiation not absorbed by the body creates the image. The radiation dose is the same amount every time you undergo an x-ray. Radiation to your entire body is measured through the millisievert (mSv) also known as the effective dose.

The effective dose helps a doctor measure the risk for possible side effects of radiographic imaging:

  • CT scans use radiation as well
  • Certain body tissues and organs in the lower back are sensitive to radiation exposure like the reproductive organs.

 

MRI Radiation-Free Why Not Just Use This Test All The Time

MRI’s cannot be used on all patients because of its powerful magnet technology. Pregnant women or individuals that have metal inside their body like a spinal cord stimulator, heart pacemaker, etc cannot be scanned with an MRI.

MRI testing is also expensive, doctors do not want to prescribe unnecessary tests that increase costs. Or because of the fine detail that MRI’s provide, sometimes a spinal issue can look serious but is not.

Example: An MRI of the lower back reveals a herniated disc in a patient that has no back/leg pain or other symptoms.

This is why doctors bring all of their findings like the symptoms, physical exam, and medical history to confirm a diagnosis and then create the custom treatment plan.

Imaging Test Takeaways

If low back pain begins to take its toll, listen to what the doctor recommends. They might not order a lumbar x-ray or MRI immediately but remember the aforementioned issues like neurological symptoms and co-existing medical conditions. But these tests do help in discovering the cause or causes of the pain. Remember this is to help get patients to their optimal health and pain-free.


 

Eliminate your Low Back Pain! El Paso, TX. (2020) FOOT ORTHOTICS

 


 

NCBI Resources

Imaging diagnostics is an essential element in the evaluation of spine trauma. The rapid evolution of imaging technology has tremendously changed the assessment and treatment of spine injuries. Imaging diagnostics utilizing CT and MRI, among others, are helpful in acute and chronic settings. Spinal cord and soft-tissue injuries are best evaluated by magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, whereas computed tomography scanning or CT scans, best evaluate spinal trauma or spine fracture.

 

Post Disclaimer

Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "Why Do I Need an X-ray or MRI for Lower Back Pain El Paso, TX?" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

Blog Information & Scope Discussions

Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, acupuncture, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and directly or indirectly support our clinical scope of practice.*

Our office has reasonably attempted to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez, DC, or contact us at 915-850-0900.

We are here to help you and your family.

Blessings

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed as a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) in Texas & New Mexico*
Texas DC License # TX5807, New Mexico DC License # NM-DC2182

Licensed as a Registered Nurse (RN*) in Florida
Florida License RN License # RN9617241 (Control No. 3558029)
Compact Status: Multi-State License: Authorized to Practice in 40 States*

Presently Matriculated: ICHS: MSN* FNP (Family Nurse Practitioner Program)

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
My Digital Business Card

Recent Posts

The Role of Nucleus Pulposus in Spinal Shock Absorption

Can understanding the nucleus pulposus help in body positioning and prevention for individuals wanting to… Read More

May 22, 2024

A Clinical Approach to Recognizing HIV: What You Need to Know

How do healthcare professionals provide a clinical approach to recognizing HIV for individuals in pain… Read More

May 22, 2024

Treating Muscle Contracture: Restoring Flexibility and Function

Can physical therapies help relieve muscle contractures in individuals who have endured prolonged bed rest,… Read More

May 21, 2024

The Power of Kimchi: A Nutritional Superfood

Can kimchi benefit individuals trying to incorporate more fermented foods into their diet? Kimchi Kimchi… Read More

May 20, 2024

The Connection Between Back Muscles and Thoracolumbar Fascia

Can the thoracolumbar fascia cause or contribute to lower back pain and inflammation? Thoracolumbar Fascia… Read More

May 17, 2024

Protecting Against Wrestling Injuries

For wrestling athletes or those thinking about getting into the sport, can knowing about common… Read More

May 16, 2024