Low back pain is one of the most common ailments for people visiting a doctor or an urgent care clinic. When the back pain becomes intense it can get you thinking something is seriously wrong with your back. The doctor might offer an x-ray or MRI scan to put your concerns at ease.
Fortunately, most cases for low back pain even acute pain improve within days or a few weeks. Most cases are remedied with chiropractic, physical therapy, heat/ice therapy and rest. And a lot of these cases do not require any form of spinal imaging. However, there are those reasons when X-ray, MRI, CT scans are necessary to figure out what’s going on.
These are typical causes of low back pain that can be painful and limit activities.
Back Pain Lasting Longer Than 2/3 Weeks
Subacute pain lasts between 4 and 12 weeks while chronic back pain lasts 3 months or longer. These are not indications of a serious low spinal condition.
Less than 1% of people with low back pain are diagnosed with a condition that may require spine surgery like:
Doctors may recommend an x-ray or MRI if the low back pain was from a traumatic injury, like a:
Other potential causes of low back pain may warrant medical imaging immediately or later on.
The diagnostic process starts with the evaluation of the low back symptoms and how they relate to what was found during the:
A doctor utilizes these results to figure out whether the need for spinal imaging is necessary, along with the type of imaging test,� x-ray or MRI and the timing to confirm a diagnosis.
A Low Back X-Ray/MRI
X-ray spinal imaging is best at detecting bony structural problems but not so great with soft tissue injuries. There are X-ray series that may be performed to diagnose vertebral compression fractures like.
MRI is a radiation-free test. MRI’s create 3-D anatomical views of the spinal bones and soft tissues. A contrast dye like gadolinium is used to enhance and improve the quality of the images. The contrast is injected through an intravenous line in your hand or arm before or during the test. An MRI can evaluate neurological symptoms, like radiating pain or pain that develops after being diagnosed with cancer.
Symptoms, Co-existing Medical Diagnoses, and Conditions that may Require Spine Imaging
Low back pain that radiates, fans out or downward into the buttocks, legs, and feet
Abnormal reflexes in the lower body can indicate nerve disruption
When undergoing an x-ray, the radiation not absorbed by the body creates the image. The radiation dose is the same amount every time you undergo an x-ray. Radiation to your entire body is measured through the millisievert (mSv) also known as the effective dose.
The effective dose helps a doctor measure the risk for possible side effects of radiographic imaging:
CT scans use radiation as well
Certain body tissues and organs in the lower back are sensitive to radiation exposure like the reproductive organs.
MRI Radiation-Free Why Not Just Use This Test All The Time
MRI’s cannot be used on all patients because of its powerful magnet technology. Pregnant women or individuals that have metal inside their body like a spinal cord stimulator, heart pacemaker, etc cannot be scanned with an MRI.
MRI testing is also expensive, doctors do not want to prescribe unnecessary tests that increase costs. Or because of the fine detail that MRI’s provide, sometimes a spinal issue can look serious but is not.
Example: An MRI of the lower back reveals a herniated disc in a patient that has no back/leg pain or other symptoms.
This is why doctors bring all of their findings like the symptoms, physical exam, and medical history to confirm a diagnosis and then create the custom treatment plan.
Imaging Test Takeaways
If low back pain begins to take its toll, listen to what the doctor recommends. They might not order a lumbar x-ray or MRI immediately but remember the aforementioned issues like neurological symptoms and co-existing medical conditions. But these tests do help in discovering the cause or causes of the pain. Remember this is to help get patients to their optimal health and pain-free.
How to eliminate Back Pain naturally | (2020) Foot Levelers |El Paso, Tx
Imaging diagnostics is an essential element in the evaluation of spine trauma. The rapid evolution of imaging technology has tremendously changed the assessment and treatment of spine injuries. Imaging diagnostics utilizing CT and MRI, among others, are helpful in acute and chronic settings. Spinal cord and soft-tissue injuries are best evaluated by magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, whereas computed tomography scanning or CT scans, best evaluate spinal trauma or spine fracture.
Dr. Alex Jimenez collaborates with top rated diagnosticians and imaging specialists. We are blessed to have in our association, imaging specialists that provide fast, courteous & premiere board certified specialists. In collaboration with our offices we can provide the quality of service our patients mandate and deserve.
Who We Are
Diagnostic Outpatient Imaging (DOI) is a state-of-the-art Radiology center in El Paso, TX. It is the only center of its kind in El Paso, owned and operated by a Radiologist.
This means when you come to DOI for a radiologic exam, every detail, from the design of the rooms, the choice of the equipment, the hand-picked technologists, and the software which runs the office, is carefully chosen or designed by the Radiologist and not by an accountant.
Our market niche is one center of excellence. Our values related to patient care are: We believe in treating patients the way we would treat our family and we will do our best to ensure that you have a good experience at our clinic.
We are pleased to inform you of the arrival of our Titan 3-Tesla MRI at Diagnostic Outpatient Imaging. This is El Paso’s only radiology imaging center that offers this technology. Patients do not always realize how important image quality is: It can make the difference in the diagnosis.
3-Tesla MRI is like HD TV and once you try it, you will not want to go back. The increased magnet strength gives us many benefits at no additional expense to the patient. It gives us the ability to scan faster or to scan with higher detail. An MRI of the brain can take 20 minutes and have exceptional quality, or we can perform the scan in less time, with better quality that is achieved on most 1.5 Tesla “high field” MRIs. This is incredibly useful for children.
Our 3T MRI can perform Diffusion Tensor Imaging, MRI Spectroscopy and CSF flow studies to name just a few of its possibilities.
This scanner is not only very fast, it is very large. Our open MRI has a clearance of 35 cm. The 3T has a diameter of 71 cm! This is welcome news for nervous or claustrophobic patients, and combined with its speed, it can actually eliminate the need for sedation for some patients. 3T MRI is faster, clearer, and has more diagnostic possibilities. We are certain you and your patients will notice the difference.
DOI has three MRI’s under one roof. All are American College of Radiology (ACR) Certified.
Open MRI (0.35 Tesla): This MRI perfect for claustrophobic and very large patients. There is no table weight limit on this MRI
High Field 1.5 Tesla MRI- This is a eight channel MRI with high end image quality. It is in a beautiful room and has ‘pianissimo’ technology, which makes the MRI relatively quiet. This machine has been the best MRI in private practice in El Paso for years. It will soon be eclipsed by our new 3.0 Tesla MRI.
High Field 3.0 Tesla MRI- This is the only 3.0 Tesla MRI in private practice in El Paso. This technology can deliver stunning image quality, which can actually make a difference in your diagnosis. The increased magnet strength gives us many benefits at no additional expense to the patient.�??It gives us the ability to scan faster, or to scan with higher detail. This is welcome news for nervous or claustrophobic patients, and as well as for children as it can actually eliminate the need for sedation in some patients. 3T is faster, clearer, more diagnostic for a better for MRI. It is like HD TV. Once you have tried it, you won’t want to go back. This MRI effectively doubles our MRI capacity. If needed most exams can be completed in under 5 minutes, instead of the normal 30-45 minutes.
DOI began Breast MRI in July 2007, being the first facility in El Paso to perform the exam. We have now performed over 2500 breast MRI’s and many MRI-guided breast biopsies. All have been interpreted and/or performed by Dr. Boushka, making him the most experienced radiologist in the city with this exam. This is the most powerful tool for the detection of Breast cancer to date.
Hours: Monday to Thursday 7 am to 9 pm Friday 7 am to 5 pm Saturday 8 am to 4 pm
Guys, you need great medical care also. We are the only facility in El Paso performing this leading edge exam. MRI can see cancers when other imaging methods cannot. Not only can we see prostate cancers with MRI, we can perform MRI-guided prostate biopies for pathologic (definitive) diagnosis.
Monday to Thursday 7 am to 9 pm Friday 7 am to 5 pm Saturday 8 am to 4 pm
We have a 16 slice Toshiba Aquillion CT scanner, with newly updated in Dec 2013. The upgrade allows for reduced X-ray dose, higher resolution, more patient comfort, shorter breath holds and doubles the speed of the scanner. This scanner performs CT X-ray exams as helical volume acquisitions in 3D from a single patient exam. Most exams are finished in under 60 seconds, unless delayed images with contrast are indicated. Additionally we have a powerful 3D post processing workstation.
Hours Monday to Friday 7 am to 6 pm
DOI has just doubled our Ultrasound capacity with newly purchased Philips 34 XRL scanner. We have Three certified Ultrasonographers with cumulative experience of 45 years. We are confident you will find them professional and compassionate. Beverly Bruner RDMS, Sonographer, formally of Desert Imaging has joined our team.
3D OB Ultrasounds:
You better believe it. Available whenever our US department is open. No referral necessary. Images are reviewed by an actual radiologist.
Ultrasound Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 8 am to 5 pm Wednesday 8 am to 8 pm Friday 8 am to 5 pm Saturday 8 am to 12 pm
DOI was the first facility in El Paso to acquire Hologic Full Field Digital Mammography and thus we have more experience with this technology than any facility in El Paso. Our Mammographer has 20 years of experience and has her own following of patents who seek her out to perform their mammograms because of her excellent and compassionate care. Our private pay screening mammography price of $90, including the interpretation is an unbeaten price in El Paso.
Hours Mon – Fri 8am to 4pm Extended hours Wednesday until 8pm) Saturdays 8am to 12pm
Bone Denisity (DEXA)
We have a brand new, Hologic Discovery CI bone densitometer scanner. This is the latest technology.
Our digital computed radiography was just updated February 2014. No appointments are necessary.
There are a number of important factors to take into consideration, such as the timing of when an MRI scan must be performed and limitations with interpretation of findings, to get an MRI scan for herniated discs.
To begin with, the difficulty with the results of an MRI scan, as with a number of other diagnostic studies, is that the abnormality may not always be the source of an individual’s back pain or other symptoms. Numerous studies have shown that approximately 30 percent of people in their twenties and forties have a lumbar disc herniation in their MRI scan, even though they don’t have any pain.
An MRI scan cannot be interpreted on its own. Everything Has to Be well-correlated into the individual patient’s condition, for example:
Symptoms (such as the duration, location, and severity of pain)
Any deficits in their examination
Another concern with MRI scans is the time of when the scan is done. When a patient has experienced the following symptoms would be the only time that an MRI scan is needed immediately:
Bowel or bladder incontinence
Progressive weakness due to nerve damage in the legs.
Herniated Disc Analysis with MRI
Obtaining an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) can be an important step in correctly assessing a herniated disc in the spine. Unlike an X-ray, MRI uses a magnetic field and a computer to create and record detailed pictures of the internal workings of your entire body. This technology can also be capable of producing cross-sectional views in identifying a disc of the body, which greatly help doctors. MRI scans are based on new technology, but they have become essential in diagnosing a number of back and neck issues, such as spinal stenosis, herniated discs and bone spurs.
An MRI scan has a number of benefits that greatly help a herniated disc patient. The advantages of an MRI can be:
Painless and free of radiation
Can focus on a particular part of the entire body
Diagnosing Disc Herniation
Should you believe you have a herniated disc in the neck or back, the very first step would be to visit a physician. Your physician will have the ability to supply you with a complete evaluation and inspection of your medical history to create a identification. Following that, you may be referred to execute an MRI stabilize and to confirm the herniated disc.
At the imaging center you’ll be put to the tubular MRI machine to get a body scan. You may remain enclosed in the MRI device for up to an hour while the comprehensive scan of place where the herniated disc along the spine is completed. The MRI can reveal the exact condition of the herniated disc and surrounding arrangements. This allows your doctor to produce the treatment plan that is right for you and to understand the origin of the disc damage and pain.
Herniated Disc Follow-Up Treatment
Most patients are able to successfully treat herniated disc pain using nonsurgical standard treatments prescribed by their physician. These include relaxation, compression treatment and mild exercise. Surgery can then be explored when months or weeks of treatment do not bring a return to previous action.
If you’re researching surgical options and have become concerned by a number of the risks and unsuccessful results of traditional open back operation, contact a specialist. Spine surgery specialists perform minimally invasive spine surgery, including invasive stabilization surgeries and minimally invasive decompression, which can treat a number of the very acute herniated discs. They may review your MRI to determine if you are a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery, which may help you get your life back.
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic and spinal injuries and conditions. To discuss options on the subject matter, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .�
By Dr. Alex Jimenez
Additional Topics: Sciatica
Lower back pain is one of the most commonly reported symptoms among the general population. Sciatica, is well-known group of symptoms, including lower back pain, numbness and tingling sensations, which often describe the source of an individual’s lumbar spine issues. Sciatica can be due to a variety of injuries and/or conditions, such as spinal misalignment, or subluxation, disc herniation and even spinal degeneration.
The importance of Magnetic Resonance Imaging to evaluate the integrity of the lumbar posterior ligament complex post trauma.
Abstract: Posterior ligamentous complex(PLC), consisting of the supraspinous ligament, interspinous ligament, ligamentum flavum, and the facet joint capsules is thought to contribute significantly to the stability of the lumbar spine. There has been much debate on whether Magnetic Resonance Imaging(MRI) is specific and sensitive in diagnosing pathology to the PLC. The objective is to determine the necessity of MRI imaging for evaluating the integrity of the lumbar posterior ligament complex post trauma.
Key Words: Magnetic Resonance Imaging(MRI), interspinous ligament, posterior ligament complex, low back pain, ligament laxity, electromyography, impairment rating
A 41-year-old male, presented to my office for an examination with complaints of low back pain with numbness, tingling and weakness into the left lower extremity after he was the restraint driver in a motor vehicle collision approximately three and a half months� post trauma.�He�rated the pain as a�3/10 on a visual analog scale with 10/10 being the worst and the pain and noted the pain as being�present most of the time.� He stated that he was on pain killers daily and this helped manage his daily activities. Without pain killers his pain levels are rated 8/10 being present most of the time. The pain killers stated by the patient are Oxycodone and Naproxen. He�reported that the pain would be aggravated by activities which required excessive standing, repetitive bending, and lifting. He further noted that in the morning the pain was increased and his left leg would be numb and weak for about the first hour.
The patient stated that his care to date had been managed by a pain management clinic and that he had minimal improvement with treatment which has included physical therapy and massage therapy. He reported the pain clinic next recommended steroid injections which he refused. He states there has been was no imaging ordered and that an Electromyography(EMG) had been performed. He was told the test was negative for pathology.
Prior History: No significant medical history was reported. Clinical Findings:�The patient is 6�0� and weighs 210 lbs.
Physical Exam Findings:
Cervical spine range of motion is full and unrestricted. Maximum cervical compression is negative. Motor and other regional sensory exam are unremarkable at this time.
Palpation of the thoracic spine region reveals taught and tender fibers in the area of the bilateral upper and mid thoracic musculature. Thoracic spine range of motion is restricted in flexion, extension, bilateral lateral flexion, and bilateral rotation. Regional motor and sensory exam are unremarkable at this time.
Palpation of the lumbosacral spine region reveals taught and tender fibers in the area of the lumbar paraspinal musculature. Lumbar spine range of motion is limited in flexion, extension, bilateral lateral flexion and bilateral rotation. Extension restriction is due to pain and spasm. Straight leg raise causes pain at approximately 50 degrees when testing either side in the left low back. There is no radicular symptomatology down the leg. Kemp�s maneuver recreates pain in the L4 region on the left. No radicular symptoms are noted. The patient is able to heel and toe walk. Regional motor and sensory exam is unremarkable at this time other than L4, L5 and S1 dermatomes having decreased sensation with light touch.
Muscle testing of the upper and lower extremities was tested at a 5/5 with the exception of the left quadricep tested at a 4/5.� The patient�s deep tendon reflexes of the upper and lower extremities were tested including triceps, biceps, brachioradialis, patella, and Achilles and all were tested at 2+ bilaterally except the left patellar reflex was 1+.
RANGES OF MOTION EVALUATION
All range of motions are based on the�American Medical Association�s Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, 5th�Edition1�and performed by a dual inclinometer for the lumbar spine.
�� Range of Motion������Normal�������� Examination�������� % Deficit
Left Lateral Flexion
Right Lateral Flexion
An MRI was ordered to rule out gross pathology.
A lumbar MRI reveals;
1)��� Mild disc bulges at T11-T12, T12-L1, L1-L2 and L5-S1
2)��� Low disc signals indicative of disc desiccation at T11-T12, T12-L1, L1-L2, L2-L3, L3-L4 and L4-L5
3)��� Retrolisthesis of 2mm at L3-L4
4)��� Mild ligamentous hypertrophy at L1-L2, L2-L3, L3-L4, L4-L5 and L5-S1
5)��� L4-L5 has a Grade 1-2 tear of the interspinous ligament with mild inflammation
6)��� L5-S1 has a Grade 1 interspinous ligament tear with mild inflammation
After reviewing the MRI I ordered lumbar x-rays to rule out ligament laxity.
Lumbar x-rays reveal the following:
1)��� Left lateral tilt
2)��� Retrolisthesis at L1 of 3mm
3)��� Retrolisthesis at L2 of 3mm
4)��� Combined excessive translation of 4mm of L1 during flexion-extension
5)��� Combined excessive translation of 4mm of L2 during flexion-extension
6)��� Excessive translation of L3 in extension posteriorly of 2.5mm
7)��� Decreased disc space at L5-S1
Chiropractic care was initiated. The patient was placed on an initial care plan of 2-3x/week for 3 months and then a recommended break in care for one month so the patient could be evaluated for permanency while he was not care dependent.
At maximum medical improvement, he had continued low back pain rated 4/10, continued numbness and tingling into his left leg and left quadricep weakness rated 4/5. He does not need pain killers for pain management anymore. He continues chiropractic care every two weeks to manage his symptoms.
In this specific case, pathology to the posterior ligament complex diagnosed on MRI lead to the x-ray finding of excessive translation at L1-L2 and L2-L3. The patient was given a permanent impairment rating of 22% based on my interpretation of the American Medical Association�s Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, 5th�Edition1. The interspinous ligament tears at the L4-L5 and L5-S1 level would not have been diagnosed without the MRI.
There has been much debate on whether MRI imaging has a role in evaluating lumbar PLC. MRI is a powerful diagnostic tool that can provide important clinical information regarding the condition of the PLC. Useful sequences for spinal MRI in trauma include sagittal and axial T1-weighted images, T2-weighted FSE, fat-saturated T2-weighted FSE, and STIR sequences to highlight bone edema.2�Ligamentous injuries are best identified on T2-weighted images with fat saturation because the ligaments are thin and bonded on either side by fat, which can appear as hyperintense on both T1 and T2 images.3�T1-weighted images are inadequate in isolation for identifying ligamentous injuries.4�
The diagnostic accuracy for MRI was reported for both supraspinous ligament and interspinous ligament injury with a sensitivity of 89.4% and 98.5%, respectively, and a specificity of 92.3% and 87.2% in 35 patients.5
For patients with persistent symptoms after trauma an MRI may be indicated to evaluate posterior ligamentous complex integrity.
Competing Interests:� There are no competing interests in the writing of this case report.
De-Identification: All of the patient�s data has been removed from this case.
1. Cocchiarella L., Anderson G. Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, 5th Edition, Chicago IL, 2001 AMA Press.
2. Cohen, W.A., Giauque, A.P., Hallam, D.K., Linnau, K.F. and Mann, F.A., 2003. Evidence-based approach to use of MR imaging in acute spinal trauma.�European journal of radiology,�48(1), pp.49-60.
3. Terk, M.R., Hume-Neal, M., Fraipont, M., Ahmadi, J. and Colletti, P.M., 1997. Injury of the posterior ligament complex in patients with acute spinal trauma: evaluation by MR imaging.�AJR. American journal of roentgenology,�168(6), pp.1481-1486.
4. Saifuddin, A., Green, R. and White, J., 2003. Magnetic resonance imaging of the cervical ligaments in the absence of trauma.�Spine,�28(15), pp.1686-1691.
5. Haba H, Taneichi H, Kotani Y, et al. Diagnostic accuracy of magnetic resonance imaging for detecting posterior ligamentous complex injury associated with thoracic and lumbar fractures.�J Neurosurg. 2003; 99(1 Suppl):20-26.
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