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Imaging As Part of Your Diagnosis

Doctor Operating CT Scanner

You probably don't need an MRI... really... I promise. 

I'll order one if you need it, but chances are your insurance company won't cover it until you meet some pretty stringent criteria.  Other imaging such as x-rays are also only necessary when the history of the injury suggests extra caution should be taken before starting treatment. 

Current medical guidelines are attempting to decrease the amount of imaging ordered by providers.  Imaging is expensive and with a good clinical history and diagnosis it is often irrelevant.  

Many patients want to see the picture because they believe it will provide all the answers.  Many times what it actually does is create more concern.  Take for example the issue of disc herniations (often called "slipped discs").  If it were possible to MRI everyone in the population nearly 30% of people without any pain would show a disc herniation on their MRI. An even higher percentage may show a disc herniation at a location that does not even correspond to their area of pain.  Another large percentage would show no disc herniation at all but be in extreme pain.  

This is because that MRI picture may be worth a 1,000 words (and several thousand dollars)... but it may do very little to help with the progression of your care.  

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