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MRIs - The Positives and the False Positives

Tests – what are they good for?

When it comes to back pain tests, of MRIs that question must be examined. What are MRIs good for when the proportion of constructive, influential MRI studies is so little? False positive MRI results distress those who get these results. They arouse fear or caution where it’s not always warranted. MRIs like this blur the proper treatment plan. They cost quite a bit. Family & Sports Chiropractic of St. Francisville carefully evaluates the necessity of MRI in the St. Francisville chiropractic treatment plan of St. Francisville back pain relief.


MRI interpretations by radiologists often vary.  The true-positive finding rate was 56.4%, and the miss-rate was 43.6%. (1) MRI imaging may trigger false suspicion. When following the guidelines of the American College of Radiology, 93% of lumbar spine MRIs were appropriate. Of those, only 13% uncovered anything that needed to be addressed. Of the 36 MRIs that provoked suspicion of cancer or infection, 81% were false-positive. 59% of the follow-up MRIs on those suspicious findings were false positives. (2) MRI imaging may misinform. For example, MRI demonstrates that the presence of disc degeneration in asymptomatic persons – persons with no back pain – rises with age:  37% in 20 year olds and 96% in 80 year olds; disc bulges: 30% to 84%; disc protrusion: 29% to 43%; annular fissures 19% to 29%. These imaging findings imply that these are signs of normal aging. They remind all doctors, remind chiropractors like yours at Family & Sports Chiropractic of St. Francisville, to compare all such findings to patient symptoms. (1,3) Your St. Francisville chiropractor does this!


Choosing Wisely guidelines for American chiropractors suggest30 not repeating spinal imaging and not obtaining spinal imaging for patients with acute low back pain in the first 6 weeks of back pain (unless there are “red flags” – issues that suggest something more sinister). (4) A review of the effectiveness of the Canadian Choosing Wisely recommendations for imaging nonspecific spinal pain and symptoms stated that there is very low risk of missing a worrying cause of back pain. (5) The objective of guidelines is less imaging, fewer false positives.  Family & Sports Chiropractic of St. Francisville wants what is best for our St. Francisville chiropractic care patients.


Chiropractors like yours at Family & Sports Chiropractic of St. Francisville review all the symptoms, tests and images our St. Francisville chiropractic back pain patients [[present on|bring with them39] their first St. Francisville chiropractic visit. So many back pain patients come to Family & Sports Chiropractic of St. Francisville with MRI images already with them. Family & Sports Chiropractic of St. Francisville will study them but will rely more on clinical exam findings and link them to what the MRI shows. A rule of thumb with the Cox Technic System of Back Pain Relief is to work toward 50% reduction of back pain in the first 30 days of care before ordering more imaging or testing or arranging surgical consultation. (6)

CONTACT Family & Sports Chiropractic of St. Francisville

Listen to this PODCAST with Dr. Dan Clark on the Back Doctor’s Podcast with Dr. Michael Johnson as he describes imaging for back pain in the program of treatment for pain relief.

Schedule your St. Francisville chiropractic appointment with Family & Sports Chiropractic of St. Francisville today. Let’s explore together the best path to St. Francisville back pain relief – with or without MRI imaging!

Family & Sports Chiropractic of St. Francisville carefully decides when and if MRI images are needed to guide the St. Francisville chiropractic treatment plan.  
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