Should I get an x-ray?
Do I need an X-ray for my lower back?
If you’ve ever had lower back pain before, you’ve probably thought about getting an xray. At the time it may seem reasonable given how severe lower back pain can feel in the first few days. The truth is that having imaging of your lower back may be doing more harm than good, and in most cases is entirely unnecessary.
If you have imaging such as an X-ray or MRI of your lower back, it is likely that the results will come back with scary words such as disc bulge or joint degeneration. Seeing these phrases can result in harmful behaviours such as avoiding movement in fear of further “damaging” your lower back. This will more than likely increase the level of pain that you are experiencing.
The reality is that these age-related changes are completely normal, and can be found in more than a third of people from 20-40 years old, and more than half of people over 40.That means that if I went and had an X-ray of my lower back, there is a good chance that the results would come back with some form of disc bulge or degeneration, even though I don’t have back pain!
So what should I do?
Lower back pain is usually very painful in the first few days, but the most important thing to do is to get up and get moving. The worst thing you can do is lie in bed or sit on the couch all day, thinking only about how sore your back is.
At PhysioWest, a thorough assessment of your lower back will be performed by a physiotherapist to determine the cause of your back pain, and will refer you for imaging if necessary. Imaging is usually only indicated if we suspect a more serious cause, or if your back pain is caused by trauma.
If you are experiencing lower back pain, book an appointment with a physiotherapist at PhysioWest who will be able to offer you some relief and get you up and moving. Book online or by calling 8352 3582.
Published by Spencer Davis, Physiotherapist, PhysioWest