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Understanding MRI Abnormalities: Your Back Might Be Better Than You Think


As a chiropractor, I often encounter patients who come to my clinic feeling anxious and worried because they've received MRI results showing abnormalities in their spine. Understandably, these findings can be unsettling, as many people associate such abnormalities with serious back problems. However, it's crucial to shed light on the fact that MRI abnormalities are more common than you might think and don't necessarily mean you have a bad back.

The Prevalence of MRI Abnormalities

First and foremost, let's address the prevalence of MRI abnormalities in the general population. Numerous studies have shown that a significant number of people who have no pain or symptoms whatsoever exhibit abnormalities when their spines are examined using MRI scans. In fact, research indicates that nearly 30% of people in their 20s and up to 84% of those aged 60 and above may have abnormalities in their lumbar spine, such as disc bulges or herniations, degenerative changes, or spinal stenosis, without experiencing any pain or discomfort.

The Pain-Abnormality Disconnect

This discrepancy between MRI findings and pain symptoms highlights a crucial point: the mere presence of abnormalities on an MRI does not necessarily equate to pain or a "bad back." Pain is a complex and multifaceted experience influenced by various factors, including lifestyle, genetics, stress, and overall health. Consequently, individuals with MRI abnormalities can lead perfectly healthy lives without ever experiencing back pain.

Additionally, some research has shown that the severity of MRI abnormalities is not always directly correlated with the intensity of pain. In other words, a person with a minor disc bulge may experience more discomfort than someone with a more severe-looking MRI abnormality. This suggests that pain is not solely determined by the structural changes visible on an MRI.

The Role of Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care plays a significant role in helping patients with MRI abnormalities manage their back health. Even if you have MRI abnormalities, chiropractic adjustments can help alleviate pain, improve mobility, and enhance overall well-being.

Chiropractors work closely with patients to develop personalized treatment plans that take into account their specific conditions and symptoms. By addressing the root causes of discomfort and optimizing spinal health, chiropractic care can often provide effective relief, even in cases where MRI abnormalities exist.

The Importance of Holistic Care

It's essential to emphasize the importance of holistic care when addressing back pain and MRI abnormalities. While it's crucial to consider MRI findings, they should not be the sole determining factor in diagnosing and treating back pain. Chiropractors take a comprehensive approach to patient care, considering not only structural issues but also lifestyle factors and overall health.


In conclusion, if you've received an MRI report indicating abnormalities in your spine, don't panic. Remember that these findings are more common than you might think, and they don't necessarily mean you have a bad back. Pain is a complex phenomenon influenced by numerous factors, and chiropractic care can be a valuable tool in managing discomfort and improving spinal health.

If you're experiencing back pain or have concerns about your spine, consult with a qualified chiropractor who can provide a thorough evaluation and develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. By addressing the root causes of pain and focusing on holistic care, you can often find relief and lead a healthier, more active life, even in the presence of MRI abnormalities.



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