So, after tending to my cacti for almost a decade now without too much thought my brother recently pointed out to me that the flowers on the front of one of them were actually paper flowers that had been glued on. Now this came as a huge surprise to me but it got me thinking, are things always as they seem? And the way that this links back to my clinics and Chiropractic is something that has been brought up with me a number of times in the last few weeks by patients following a scan on their spine.
So firstly I want to point out that this isn‘t a slight against radiologists or the fantastic work they do, their job is to read the scan and report the findings, but does what they find always link directly to the symptoms being felt by the patient. The short answer is no.
A 2015 literature review (1.) found that 30% of 20 year olds had a disc bulge and were totally asymptomatic, that percentage rose to 84% for those 80 years of age, it wasn‘t just disc bulges but many imaging based degenerative features were found in these participants with no pain or symptoms.
So what does this tell us? Well one thing it tells us is that these features are part of the normal ageing process and shouldn‘t be feared as they are. It’s like saying to someone they have ‘degenerative face disease‘ because they have wrinkles.
Obviously there are circumstances where a disc bulge/herniation can cause pretty nasty symptoms but when taking an image of someone’s spine then any findings must be interpreted in the context of the patients symptoms.
Recently in clinic I’ve seen a number of patients who have had a scan done and given their results, which is a ream of scary sounding terms and that has unsurprisingly put huge fear into them that their spine is ‘faulty’ and they shouldn’t move as it will cause more problems.
This is the worst thing we can do, our spines want to move and except in certain circumstances we should keep moving as much as possible. Remember ‘motion is lotion‘ & ’rest is rust’.
If this sounds familiar and you have yourself been in this situation then contact your local health practitioner and they should be able to talk you through your results. As always I am available if you do have any questions.