Back pain can be scary, especially when an MRI finds something abnormal. While they can seem scary, structural findings on a diagnostic scan don’t always equate with pain or are the cause of the pain.
Abnormal MRI findings are normal in people without pain, especially as age increases. Over 50% of 30-year-olds with no pain show signs of disk degeneration increasing up to 80% at age 50 (Brinjikji, et al, 2015).
And although chronic back pain is a common medical complaint, no specific cause is found in up to 85% of cases with central sensitization as a potential contributing factor (Sanzarello, et al, 2016) along with fear of pain and activity as maintaining factors.
Check out these back facts from OSullivan, et al, 2020:
I was recently honored to be a guest on the Compass Opioid Stewardship Program podcast hosted by Dr. Rachael Duncan, PharmD. and Dr. Don Stader.
I'm so grateful for the opportunity and blessed to be able to share my story with clinicians. I'm also thankful for the generosity of Dr. Stader. You'll find out what he offered me at the end of the podcast. It brought me to tears.
You can listen to the podcast episode on Apple, Spotify, and Libsyn via the links below:
Check out the entire podcast series.
Learn more about the Compass Opioid Stewardship Program.
Tom Bowen is a chronic pain patient who turned into an advocate, educator, and collaborator.