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Disc Bulge On My MRI – Should I Be Worried?

Chronic back pain is a debilitating condition that can have a huge impact on both your work and personal life. It is currently estimated that 3.7 million Australians (16% of the population) are living with back problems.

Back pain can be frustrating for those affected and with so many treatment options available on the market it can be difficult figuring what option to choose and which health professional to trust. People may bounce from health professional to health professional before finding themselves sitting in a doctor’s office being presented with an MRI report that seems to indicate confusing and sometimes alarming findings.

MRI Findings

It is important at this point in time to ensure you have access to quality information and education – something the physiotherapy team at Optimum take immense pride in. The truth is that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can reveal a range of degenerative findings and anatomical abnormalities, however the clinical importance of these remains uncertain and controversial. In fact a recent systematic review published in the American Journal of Neuroradiology found that the prevalence of disk bulges in asymptomatic (no back pain) individuals increased from 30% of 20-year-olds individuals to 84% of 80-year-old individuals. As it stands if >50% of asymptomatic people aged over 40 will show evidence of disc bulging on an MRI, yet they do not have any back pain at all.

It is because of these findings that we as clinicians need to be careful before drawing conclusions on the true cause of a client’s pain and to ensure we are providing educated recommendations. Too often client’s go under the knife without being properly informed.

Addressing the findings

Findings of an MRI should be considered against the symptoms of the client because if they don’t match up then it is unlikely that there is a direct link between the two. There are of course instances where surgical review is warranted and in that case Optimum will not hesitate to connect clients with leading surgeons in the field. What we do know as Optimum physiotherapists is that there exists a wide variety of factors that contribute to chronic back pain and with the correct information, education and exercise prescription in most cases surgery can be avoided and clients can get back to doing what they love doing sooner. Come in to talk to one of our friendly physios and find out what we can do for you today!

Now that you have the information you need and some tips to get you started, go forth and melt that stress away in a healthy and constructive way that will add value (and maybe years) to your life!

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