MRI for Lower Back

MRI tests may be prescribed to tests for arthritic changes to the spine, and to get good diagnostic detail of the bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the vertebral spine.

MRI may be prescribed for lower back pain symptoms to tests for possible spinal abnormalities such as Retrolisthesis of spinal stenosis.

The MRI, or Magnetic Resonance Imaging tests may be ordered for back pain patients when soft tissue injuries are suspected. X-rays are very good at showing detail of the vertebrae - bones of the spine, but show far less detail of soft tissues such as the intervertebral discs, facet joints, and ligaments of the spine. MRIs are good at showing soft tissue structures, and more importantly, soft tissue injury or pathology. The MRI apparatus is good for viewing and evaluating the anatomy of a particular body structure. There is some overlap between the specific benefits doctors would receive from viewing both MRI and CT tests of the same body joints or soft tissues. Both can show good detail of the structures ordered for imaging by the doctors involved with your case. But MRIs show a greater contrast in the soft tissue areas of the body. This good detail and contrast will provide physicians more information about soft tissue damage, if present. MRIs also give doctors to look at cross-sectional images of injured areas that are taking, providing a cumulative 3D view of the bones and soft tissues looked at. MRIs are particularly beneficial with back and joint injuries because they allow the doctors to be able to see good shots of not only the bones and joints, but also of the muscles, ligaments, and tendons.



The technology used with MRIs is far different than those used for CT Scans and X-Rays. CTs and X-Rays both use ionizing radiation, as the light from the X-ray tube passed through the person's body and is collected on the image receptor behind the patient. In the electromagnetic spectrum, the only forms of light capable of ionizing radiation are X-rays and Gamma Rays. Doctors consider the strengths against the risks, when ordering these tests, as the X-ray and CT rays passed through the patient that are capable of ionizing atoms in our body do cause some damage to our tissues, even if we can't feel it. As these X-rays penetrate our bodies, some make it all the way through to the other side, and some are absorbed. In the image receptor behind the person, the X-ray areas where the X-ray photons are able to penetrate the receptor show up black, and the areas where X-ray photons are absorbed show up white. This contrast of black and white dots produced an X-ray image on film or computer screen that doctors cab read to look at lower back pain pathology. The massive magnetic coils used in MRI machines also affect the atoms in our bodies, but don't use and ionizing radiation.

MRIs are much more expensive than CT Scans or MRIs. Because of the financial factor, doctors must show more due cause in order for insurance companies to approve the test.

MRI for Lower Back: Here are some diagnoses that doctors may present to you as a result of an MRI.

Anterolisthesis refers to movement the vertebral bodies backward, out of normal alignment.

Facet Arthropathy occurs due to arthritis of the facet joint, causing the vertebrae to become displaced and connect with one another.

Foraminal Stenosis indicates a narrowing of the foramen. When the size of the foramen diminishes, due to arthritis changes or thickening of the vertebrae, the nerve roots that pass through them may become constricted, causing severe pain and dysfunction.

Spondylosis: Spondylosis is a nonspecific term that refers to any degenerative lesion of the spine, similar to arthritis.