Do I need an MRI of my neck or low back to figure out what’s wrong?

Do I need an MRI of my neck or low back to figure out what’s wrong in Watertown?

Chiropractic Watertown SD MRI For Neck or Low Back Pain

When you’re in severe neck or low back pain in Watertown (enough pain to make you go to the doctor or ER) you are desperate to know what is causing your pain. Many people want an MRI to see what is wrong, but in most cases it’s not necessary.

Most disc issues will resolve within 6-12 weeks of time. That’s why many insurance companies will not approve an MRI until at least four weeks of conservative care is done.

In our practice, we typically will order an MRI if it is clinically necessary. Locally, in Watertown, SD, we have a new MRI center opening up in a local clinic. The danger of that is that more MRI’s will be ordered that are probably not necessary and could cause harm to the patient.

How can MRI in Watertown cause harm to a patient?

Many patients will have “thought viruses” after seeing their MRI or their x-ray. They will hear their doctor tell them they have multiple levels of disc degeneration or bulges or other big words that sound scary to the average patient. Now sometimes these findings do correlate clinically with the patient’s pain presentation, but just because you have a bulging disc on MRI does not mean it’s a life sentence.

The problem with these thought viruses is that patients feel “doomed for life” and that they are scared of doing exercises or movement because they are going to cause more damage to the spine. There’s a lot of poor management of patients who are in pain, and it’s these thought viruses that has caused patients to become dependent on drugs, epidurals, and other forms of pain management.

Why You should not be afraid of most findings on your x-ray or MRI?

A major study was performed on people of all ages in each decade of life. I’ll quote the conclusion in the study below, but the main takeaway is that as we age the more likely you will find more disc bulges, disc degeneration, arthritis, etc…. In our office, we call these findings “wrinkles of the spine”. Many of these findings are a normal part of aging and have no effect on the pain you are experiencing.

An example that I’ve seen numerous times in my office is that of a patient who will present with severe pain in say the right knee. Their medical doctor will take x-rays of both knees and the painful right knee has more cartilage and space compared to the non painful left knee that is bone on bone. This perplexes the doctor, but a lot times the doctor will move forward with the knee replacement surgery and then say “well it looks like we will be doing your other one really soon cause it’s bone on bone”.


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8:30am - 12:00pm
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8:30am - 12:30pm


Watertown Chiropractic
2320 9th Avenue SE
Watertown, SD 57201
Phone: (605) 882-2304
Fax: (605) 882-0626