Back pain is one of the nation’s leading medical problems. In most cases, it rears its ugly head as acute pain that typically lasts less than six weeks at a time, according to the National Institutes of Health. But for others, back pain manifests as chronic, long-lasting discomfort. Low back pain is particularly common, representing one of the top causes of disability in the U.S.

When it comes to back treatments, MRIs are often the starting point; the first step in creating an action plan. But how useful are they in accurately diagnosing back pain? Moreover, do they actually pave the way for back treatment that works?

The answer varies. Let’s take a closer look at the role MRIs play in relieving back pain.

MRIs Aren’t Always the Answer to Back Pain

MRIs indeed have their place. (More on this in a bit.) But they also have their shortcomings. If we’re talking about diagnostic tools for back pain, there’s one approach that’s gradually becoming the new norm—Digital Motion X-ray, also known as DMX.

Available in Health Star Clinic’s Montgomery location, DMX is unique in its ability to detect spinal injuries in a way that MRIs can’t. This is because we often experience back pain while we’re in motion, not while we’re lying still on an MRI table. With DMX imaging, we can actually get a clear visual representation of irregular motion, which can help accurately diagnose the source of back pain.

Unlike MRIs, which have the patient in a resting position, DMX is performed with the patient standing upright. What’s more, the patient is prompted to actively move in a weight-bearing position. As this is happening, the system captures images of the spine in real-time motion.

The takeaway here is that MRIs are not the end-all-be-all for diagnosing back pain.

When an MRI Makes Sense for Back Treatment

In some instances, MRIs can provide doctors with a pretty clear diagnosis and ultimately guide the treatment plan. According to the experts at WebMD, here are some of the conditions an MRI might be able to detect:

  • Spinal disc issues. If, for example, a ruptured disc is putting pressure on a nerve, it might explain the patient’s sciatica pain.
  • Conditions that could prompt surgery, like spinal stenosis
  • Spinal tumors
  • Spinal fractures
  • Nerve damage

Whether you choose to get an MRI or not, more and more experts are hailing non-drug therapies for treating back pain. The American College of Physicians now suggests trying approaches like chiropractic care over surgery and pharmaceuticals. Health Star Clinic has you covered. If you’re at war with chronic back pain, it’s time to try a fresh approach. Here’s how.