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MRIs, CT scans, X-rays Do Not Improve Back Pain Outcomes

The American College of Physicians (ACP) has found strong evidence that routine imaging for low back pain with X-ray or advanced imaging methods, such as CT scan or MRI, does not improve the health of patients.

In “Diagnostic Imaging for Low Back Pain: Advice for High-Value Health Care from the American College of Physicians,” published in the February 1 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, ACP recommends that routine or advanced imaging studies should only be performed in selected higher-risk back pain patients who have severe or progressive neurologic deficits, are suspected of having a serious or specific underlying condition, or are candidates for invasive interventions.

Unnecessary imaging can lead to unnecessary added tests, interventions, follow ups, and referrals that do not improve patient outcomes, according to a Feb. 1, 2011 ACP press release.

ACP’s Diagnostic Imaging for Low Back Pain: Advice for High-Value Health Care also states:
• Decisions for repeat imaging should be based on the development of new symptoms or changes in current symptoms.
• To be most effective, efforts to reduce routine imaging should take into account clinician behaviors, patient expectations, and financial incentives.
• Patient education strategies should be utilized to inform patients about current and effective standards of care and help them understand the benefits and harms of the radiological testing.

Click on this link for the full press release.

For more about what physical therapists do to relieve and prevent recurrent back pain, contact A Physical Therapist, Inc.

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