Spinal Imaging and Symptoms

Spinal Imaging and Symptoms:

By: Dr. Karim Riskallah, DC


Let me be perfectly clear....SPINAL IMAGING FINDINGS AND SYMPTOMS OFTEN DO NOT CORRELATE.  There is nothing more frustrating for me than seeing a young adult in their 20's or 30's restricting their lifestyle and worrying because their family doctor told them they have "degenerating discs" or arthritis in their spine.  As seen in an important 2015 study by Brinjikji et al in The American Journal of Neuroradiology, it was essentially deemed very normal to have a multitude of "degenerative changes" in your spine, yet still be asymptomatic.  In fact, should you be symptomatic, often times it many have nothing to do with your "degenerative changes".  I have had many patients with severe low back pain, yet have "normal" imaging findings.  Bottom line, your imaging findings and your symptoms generally don't often correlate.  Their are so many other factors to consider when assessing your spine health and symptoms other than imaging findings, such as spinal mobility, motor control, strength/endurance...etc...all of which cannot be measured or assessed with imaging.

Moral of the story:  Life is short, please stay active and do whatever it is you love to do despite your spine being labeled arthritic or degenerating. 

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