MRI, CT and X-rays may fool us. A recent article concluded that the amount of constriction of the nerves exiting the lower spine thought to be the reason for back and leg pain was not correlated with the amount of relief a patient experienced with steroid injections around that nerve(s).

Beautiful clear pictures of the spine and nerves seduce us into believing we can see the reason for the pain. Focusing too much on imaging and not enough on the physical examination, results in many patients receiving surgery and nerve blocks that were assumed to be the right treatment but didn’t relieve the pain. Did that happen to you?

Pain is much more complicated. When it just begins it is usually easier to understand and treat. When pain persists, changes in the nervous system may cause it to increase in intensity and spread to other parts of your body. In order to properly treat persistent pain your doctor needs to look beyond the X-ray and MRI.

~ Norman Marcus, MD
Norman Marcus Pain Institute, New York NY

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