I have often wondered what would an MRI look like of a pain-free individual. In terms of both spine health and arthritis. I am so glad someone finally did it.
When a client is told that they have “disc degeneration”, “bulging disc” or “osteoarthritis” their whole outlook on their body and it’s movement changes, and not in a good way. For some, it’s almost like they have been given a prison sentence. MRIs (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) has evolved into the “gold standard” of diagnostic tools to recommend surgery and/or limitations on activity. It is one of the most sensitive diagnostics currently available. Unfortunately, this often leads to conclusions that movements should be limited because the doctor found these results with and MRI.
“If we consider the findings of both these studies, it is now clear that degenerative changes to the body are a normal part of aging and do not directly correlate with pain.” – Anthony Carey, Function First Blog August 15, 2016
Anthony Carey, Owner of Function First in San Diego, wrote on this topic and speaks of 2 studies, a study using MRI to observe knee abnormalities of osteoarthritis (OA) Guermazi et. al. (2012) and another study in European Spine Journal (Kato et al. 2012) that looked at MRI’s of the cervical spine of 1211 asymptomatic patients. Asymptomatic = without pain or other symptoms
Wait, what? Yes, a majority of people who are WITHOUT pain would have “abnormal” findings on an MRI. This means that even though your medical professional is showing you images of degeneration and putting a name to said images, it is a normal part of aging and it DOES NOT mean that you will experience pain!
So what does this mean for you and your functional world? It means that you should not simply wear your “disc degeneration” or “knee osteoarthritis” badge and sit on the bench and say poor me. It means that you are normal and you are aging. If you do have pain and your medical professional has handed you a “diagnosis,” your new badge does not necessarily hold the responsibility of causing your pain.
There are many options to find the true source of your pain, don’t let a diagnosis or imaging dictate your outcome. Posture and movement assessments can bring light to muscular imbalances. Awareness of the repetitive motions of your occupation can help you to understand where those imbalances may be coming from and corrective exercises and other modalities can bring you back in balance and help you become pain-free.
Feel free to contact me for a free phone/online consultation or to provide education at your workplace. I am also happy to help lead you in the right direction if you are not in the Denver Metro Area and need a local based expert.