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Are MRI’s Replacing The Physical Exam?

Everyone seems to want to get an MRI nowadays. It’s like there is an MRI epidemic, with millions and millions being performed in the U.S. A patient complains of pain, and an MRI is ordered. But are MRI’s replacing the physical exam?

Sure, an MRI will often show an abnormality. But the problem is…that abnormality very well may not be what is causing the pain. A disc abnormality does not necessarily mean that the disc is causing the pain. Many people who have no pain have disc abnormalities.

MRI Results Without A Physical Exam

The lack of a physical exam is becoming a problem. Before the MRI, physicians had to diagnose by an exam. And they would actually palpate and touch the patient. In fact, 90% of the diagnosis would come from the history and physical exam. MRI’s should confirm what already is suspected as a result of a thorough patient history and examination.

MRI and Surgery

If you are seriously considering surgery, then an MRI is what the orthopedic surgeon will use to map the surgery. But never have surgery based just on the results of an MRI. Get another opinion. And make sure you receive a proper exam. A practical option would be to receive a consult from a Prolotherapist who specializes in fixing the spine and joints without surgery. Surgery should only be done after all conservative care has been tried, including Regenerative Orthopedic options like Prolotherapy.

MRI studies are not always helpful and can sometimes lead to further intervention. Do not let MRI results dictate your treatment. Fixing your problem with the least invasive and most effective method should be your priority.

Please read the entire article, which was originally printed in the Townsend Letter below.

If a joint replacement has been recommended, Stem Cell Therapy, another Regenerative Orthopedic option, is an effective non-surgical alternative. Please read our article Alternative to Joint Replacement Surgery  here.

Townsend Article October 2013 1

Are MRI’s replacing the physical exam?

Townsend Article October 2013 2