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Why NOT MRIs? Treating low back pain

Watch this video for important questions to ask your provider


Treatment of low back pain involves a multi-pronged approach. When it comes to back pain, only about 5 percent of cases are serious. Talk to your health care provider about self-care, alternatives such as physical therapy and whether or not an MRI is needed. See below for videos, additional information and printable brochure.

Is back pain serious?

Only about 5% of all back pain is the result of something serious, like infection, cancer or a significant neurologic problem.

Can I manage back pain on my own?

If the pain is mild to moderate and does not significantly interfere with daily activities, many people can self-manage their back pain.

What level of activity is safe for me?

Unless back pain is severe, stay active within tolerable limits. Bed rest is not recommended and may prolong recovery.

When should I see a doctor?

If the back pain is mild to moderate and has not reasonably improved after 2-3 weeks of self-management, see a doctor.

Do I need an X-ray or MRI?

Imaging studies such as X-ray, CT scan or MRI are not helpful in the diagnosis and treatment recommendations for the majority of back pain episodes.
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