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Our SPINE physician responds to a frequently asked question from our patients: “My MRI shows a disc herniation!  How worried should I be?”

Dr. Sakai’s response:

My patients often come to me worried about their MRI findings in regards to their back pain.  However, it is important to keep in mind that MRI findings do not necessarily correlate to pain severity, or even the presence of pain.  Various studies have been done looking at abnormal MRI findings in asymptomatic people without back pain.  The numbers vary depending on the study, but the prevalence of disc bulges may vary from 24-52% and disc herniations from 20-40%.  So all together, abnormal disc findings are present in about 60% of asymptomatic people.  Before you jump to any conclusions about what your MRI report means, make sure you consult a trusted spine pain physician specialist to help you understand the significance of the MRI findings in the context of your symptoms and physical examination findings.

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