MRIs - The Positives and the False Positives

Tests – what are they good for?

When it comes to back pain tests, of MRIs that question must be examined. What are MRIs good for when the percentage of constructive, influential MRI studies is so little? False positive MRI results upset those who receive such results. They inspire fear or caution where it’s not always needed. MRIs like this confuse the proper treatment plan. They spend a lot of money. Layden Chiropractic carefully weighs the necessity of MRI in the Plainville chiropractic treatment plan of Plainville back pain relief.


Interpretations of MRI images by radiologists often vary.  The true-positive finding rate was 56.4%, and the miss-rate was 43.6%. (1) MRI imaging may trigger misleading suspicion. When following the guidelines of the American College of Radiology, 93% of lumbar spine MRIs were appropriate. Of those, only 13% revealed anything suspicious. Of the 36 MRIs that caused suspicion of cancer or infection, 81% were false-positive. 59% of the follow-up MRIs on those suspicious findings were false positives. (2) MRI imaging may mislead. For example, MRI demonstrates that the presence of disc degeneration in asymptomatic persons – persons with no back pain – grows with age:  37% in 20 year olds and 96% in 80 year olds; disc bulges: 30% to 84%; disc protrusion: 29% to 43%; annular fissures 19% to 29%. These imaging findings suggest that these are signs of normal aging. They remind all doctors, remind chiropractors like yours at Layden Chiropractic, to compare all such findings to patient symptoms. (1,3) Your Plainville chiropractor does this!


Choosing Wisely guidelines for American chiropractors suggest30 not repeating spinal imaging and not getting spinal imaging for patients with acute low back pain in the first 6 weeks of back pain (unless there are “red flags” – issues that indicate something more disturbing). (4) A review of the effectiveness of the Canadian Choosing Wisely recommendations for imaging nonspecific spinal pain and symptoms stated that there is very low risk of missing a worrying cause of back pain. (5) The objective of guidelines is less imaging, fewer false positives.  Layden Chiropractic wants what’s best for our Plainville chiropractic care patients.


Chiropractors like yours at Layden Chiropractic study all the symptoms, tests and images our Plainville chiropractic back pain patients [[present on|bring with them39] their first Plainville chiropractic visit. So many back pain patients come to Layden Chiropractic with MRI images already in-hand. Layden Chiropractic will study them but will depend more on clinical exam findings and link them to what the MRI reveals. A rule of thumb with the Cox Technic System of Back Pain Relief is to work toward 50% decrease of back pain in the first month of care before arranging more imaging or testing or arranging surgical consultation. (6)

CONTACT Layden Chiropractic

Listen to this PODCAST with Dr. Dan Clark on the Back Doctor’s Podcast with Dr. Michael Johnson as he explains the role of imaging for back pain in the program of treatment for pain relief.

Schedule your Plainville chiropractic appointment with Layden Chiropractic today. Let’s discover together the best path to Plainville back pain relief – with or without MRI imaging!

Layden Chiropractic carefully chooses when and if MRI images are needed to guide the Plainville chiropractic treatment plan.  
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"This information and website content is not intended to diagnose, guarantee results, or recommend specific treatment or activity. It is designed to educate and inform only. Please consult your physician for a thorough examination leading to a diagnosis and well-planned treatment strategy. See more details on the DISCLAIMER page. Content is reviewed by Dr. James M. Cox I."