American College of Physicians: Spinal Abnormalities Are Normal


American College of Physicians (ACP) , the second largest physicians group in the United States, makes the following recommendation in its Best Practices Advice:

"Doctors should use a patient's history and physical examination to determine whether the low back pain is musculoskeletal or due to a serious condition. Doctors should not order x-ray, CT, or MRI unless they suspect a serious cause of low back pain. Patients with musculoskeletal low back pain need information so that they understand why they do not need tests even though their backs hurt. Doctors and patients should discuss the expected course of low back pain; the importance of remaining active; medications for pain and inflammation; and self-care options, such as heating pads, exercise, and other nondrug treatments... Most lumbar imaging abnormalities are common in persons without low back pain and are only loosely associated with back symptoms."

Many studies have shown that spinal abnormalities do not cause back pain. So experts have concluded that spinal abnormalities found on scans are simply normal part of aging.

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