Degenerative Disc Disease and the MRI – Superior Physical Therapy

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Degenerative Disc Disease and the MRI

Dont’ Be Afraid.

I am writing this to patients, and I am writing this to physical therapists.

For the patient: Have you had an MRI on your spine that absolutely freaks you out?  Here are a couple statistics that could ease your mind.

When looking at an MRI, 9 out of 10 people have degenerative discs.  That’s right, 90%!

60% of people who have an MRI have a bulging or herniating disc!

If you are part of over 90% of the population that is experiencing low back pain, do not be afraid, you’re certainly not alone.

Are MRI’s helpful? Yes, are MRIs harmful? Yes.

MRI-Machine-1250x833

MRIs are harmful in the sense that they put fear into our brains.  MRIs incorrectly paint a picture that our spines are crumbling, that we should have no hope for the future. That we better “baby our spine” because we have spinal stenosis.

These amazing machines pick up on any structural deformity in our spine and then it is ASSUMED that this structural deformity is causing our pain!

What happens next? We are sent to a number of specialists analyzing these structural deformities.

And then you hear the word……..surgery.

Wait, what?  They are recommending surgery when the structural deformities are likely the symptom and not the cause? Does this make sense?

What we are finding out is the best thing you can do for low back pain is to MOVE.

Two men on an early morning run.

 

For the physical therapist:

Don’t be afraid

If all you are having your patients with low back pain do is Williams flexion, table exercises, “core strengthening” and talk endlessly about body mechanics then you are feeding into this fear.

Body mechanics paints the picture that our spine cannot handle any stress.  “Never bend to pick something up, and NEVER bend and twist.”  Do you know what that sounds like to me?

It sounds like I will never be able to play with my grandkid again.  It sounds like I’ll never be able to golf again.  It sounds like I’ll have to buy one of those grabbers to pick things up off the floor!

patient-with-physical-therapist

We need to give some hope.  We need to walk with people down the path of better movement for a better life.  We need to address the dysfunction, not the symptom.

Our healthcare system has created a sense of fear surrounding low back pain.

Don’t be afraid of movement.   It might be exactly what your spine needs.

If you have pain in your back with walking, sitting, reaching for items, standing for a period of time then  try these exercises!

Check out our video: The Top Three Exercises For Stenosis

Inspire On,

Nick Hawkins DPT, FAFS, CSCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Fellow of Applied Functional Science
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

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