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.
Remember, all pain is biopsychosocial contributors Research has found that "when individuals with low back pain consider they have a flare, they do not always have greater than average pain, but have worse psychosocial features" (Costa, et al, 2021).
Check out these back facts from OSullivan, et al, 2020:
Tom Bowen is a chronic pain patient who turned into an advocate, educator, and collaborator.
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