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MRI & Low Back Pain

Back pain and sciatica are common health complaints. Almost everyone has back pain at some time in their life. Most of the time, the exact cause of the pain cannot be found.

An MRI scan is an imaging test that creates detailed pictures of the spine to identify the cause and rule out other sinister causes of the pain.


Both you and your doctor may be worried that something serious is causing your low back pain. Could your pain be caused by cancer or infection in your spine? How does your doctor know for sure?

You will likely need an MRI right away if you have warning signs of a more serious cause of back pain:

If you have low back pain but none of the warning signs, you and your doctor may want to wait before having an MRI. If the pain does not get better or becomes worse, your doctor will likely order one to direct his treatment.

Keep in mind that:

Most of the time, back and neck pain are not caused by a serious medical problem or injury.

Low back or neck pain often gets better on its own.

MRI scans create detailed pictures of your spine. It can pick up most injuries that you have had in your spine or changes that happen with ageing. Even small problems or changes that are not the cause of your current back pain are picked up. Discuss with your doctor for reassurance and these should not stop you for not continuing exercise. You generally do not need additional tests.


MRI is very safe. It does not use radiation and patients must be kept still during the scans which is sometimes difficult in children requiring sedation.

Patients with heart pacemakers and metallic implants which is not MRI friendly cannot utilize the MRI because of the strong magnetic fields. Before the MRI scan, the technologist will ask for any metal objects that you may have on your body.

In rare cases, the contrast (dye) used in some studies with MRI scans can cause severe allergic reactions or damage to your kidneys. The radiologist will make sure the benefits outweigh the risks of any potential harm of use of contrast.



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At the Orthopaedics Centre of Excellence at Apollo Bramwell Hospital (ABH), we pride ourselves on providing the highest quality specialist care- from the first moment you are in touch with us through to the completion of your treatment and aftercare. Read more...




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Jane and I wanted to thank you so much for the care you and your colleagues took of Jane whist in Mauritius. Everything went well and Prakash did a great job of getting us to your clinic and back over the 6 dialysis days. We had a wonderful holiday and our children and grandchildren plus the other family all enjoyed it enormously. Best wishes to you all

Andrew and Jane Stewart