Features October 2011 Issue

Imaging Scans for Lower Back Pain Found to Be Unnecessary

Expensive MRI, CT scans are not needed for most back-pain problems.

If you suffer from lower back pain—and nearly 31 million Americans will at some point in their lives—think twice about consenting to imaging scans. They may do you more harm than good. Most lower back pain is caused by a strain on bones, muscles, and ligaments. When treated with over-the-counter painkillers, the pain usually will go away within a few days or weeks. However, many doctors order imaging scans—X-rays, CT, or MRI scans—at the first sign of back pain.

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