The MRI (Magnetic resonance Imaging) was developed in the 1980’s and has revolutionized treatment for patients with low back pain. An MRI scan is generally considered to be the single best imaging study of the spine to help plan treatment for back pain. Physicians usually have a good idea of what they are looking for on the MRI scan before one is performed. The scans are most commonly used for pre-surgical planning, such as for a decompression or a lumbar spinal fusion. MRI scans are extremely sensitive to picking up information about the health of the discs, as well as the presence of any spinal tumors or a lumbar disc herniation (see figure 1) that pinches the nerve roots and causes back pain.
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