Lumbar (Low Back) Pain MRI

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MRI in the Diagnosis of Lumbar Pain

The acronym MRI stands for: “Magnetic Resonance Imaging.” This is a radiological scan that is capable of looking at many layers of the spine and surrounding tissue, and can quickly show issues that identify the potential causes of lumbar spine pain.

Lumbar Pain Diagnosis – MRI

In most cases, more than one technique is employed when diagnosing lumbar pain However, of the available methods among the most revealing is the lumbar MRI. This technology has the capacity to image multiple layers of the spine and low back and will often show a spine health specialist the condition of a person’s bones, discs, ligaments and nerves, all without any discomfort to the patient.

Is MRI the Right Diagnostic Tool in Diagnosing your Lumbar Pain?

If you have chronic or sudden low back pain, it is important to visit a physician to get to the bottom of what may be causing it. The low back is called the lumbar spine and pain in this area can cause a long list of associated issues. Lumbar pain can reduce the overall quality of daily life by forcing you to live with ongoing pain, weakness or numbness in the limbs, and more.  Though there is a substantial list of conditions that can cause low back pain in the lumbar area of the spine, getting to the bottom of it through the use of MRI can be important for an accurate diagnosis and subsequent treatment.

The lumbar spine is composed not only vertebrae stacked atop one another, but also of nerves, ligaments, muscles and other soft tissues. Sometimes, something as simple as “sleeping wrong” might cause muscle discomfort that is severe enough to leave you feeling impaired for several days. This sort of pain may not need diagnosis at all, but there are several forms of lumbar pain that warrant a visit to the physician.

Pain that is severe, ongoing, and associated with the appearance of limb weakness or numbness, or loss of control over bladder and bowel function and other pervasive symptoms is most certainly in need of diagnosis. A physician may not automatically use MRI in diagnosing lumbar pain but will usually begin with a physical exam, go over your medical history, and then discuss the current pain. Then, if it seems warranted, deeper analysis may be accomplished using an MRI of the lumbar spine.

An MRI machine uses powerful magnets and radio waves rather than radiation, as in the case of an X-ray. It has the ability to capture different layers of the human body and reveals soft tissues like nerves but also areas of bone too. Due to these capabilities, many physicians and spine health professionals have come to rely on the MRI in their diagnostic workup of patients presenting with lumbar pain. While traditional x-rays can highlight areas of bone that may cause pain in the lumbar spine, and a CT scan can also help to evaluate problems within the low-back, the MRI for diagnosis of lumbar pain tends to be more concise and revealing.

This is because it allows the medical expert to see the state of the many nerves within the lumbar spine, and to understand if anything is being pinched, compressed, or showing signs of irritation and inflammation. These are all matters that can easily lead to serious low back pain, and the speed and safety of the MRI often makes it a fast and comprehensive diagnostic solution.

At a Glance: Diagnosis Lumbar Pain with MRI

  • An lumbar MRI provides a multi-layered view of the spine in the low back and can reveal problems with nerves, bones, and other tissue
  • The lumbar spine (low back) can conceal a host of problems but the MRI can usually uncover them
  • Low back pain is sometimes related to nerve issues and an MRI provides the physician with a detailed view of the nerves

Tips for Patients Considering MRI in Diagnosing Their Lumbar Pain

  • MRI machines use no radiation and studies usually take less than 60 minutes to complete
  • An MRI captures images of your entire low back region and may provide answers to questions about nerves, ligaments, soft tissue and bones
  • An MRI for diagnosis of lumbar pain may show that you have herniated lumbar discs, lumbar spinal stenosis, or problems with the ligaments in the lumbar vertebrae
  • Your doctor will use MRI as part of the diagnostic workup after discussing symptoms and your medical history with you


Health Tips

  • Always eat breakfast
  • Eat your fruit and veg
  • Take time to shop each week
  • Sit down at the table to eat
  • Get adequate rest daily.

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