MRI For Low Back Pain More Costly Than Physical Therapy

Your back hurts (join the club) and you go to see your primary care physician. Most of the time, your doctor will tell you to rest, maybe take some ibuprofen or ice the affected area.

But when researchers looked at 841 people who needed additional care, they found that the ones sent first for MRIs were more likely to have surgery or injections, see a specialist or visit an emergency room than those who were first sent to physical therapists. And they (or their insurance companies) paid an average of $4793 more.

The reasons, said the study's lead author, are more likely found in the heads of patients and doctors than in anyone's back. MRIs tend to turn up all kinds of benign changes in spines and backs that occur as we move through life. But those prompt patients to look for fixes and to pressure doctors to refer them for those.

Read more at The Washington Post:

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