I have Backache. Do I need an MRI?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a diagnostic modality utilizing magnetic fields and radio frequency fields to produce high-contrast images of the body.

While a good clinical history and detailed physical examination by a skilled doctor is often sufficient for an initial diagnosis and treatment of a patient with back pain, it is sometimes preferable to proceed to imaging.

Compared to X-rays, an MRI will produce a much better image , especially when it is necessary to see the soft tissues more clearly. These may include:

  • Para-vertebral muscles
  • Inter-vertebral disc
  • Epidural spaces
  • Spinal cord and nerves

Some special situations in which your doctor may order an spine MRI for back pain would include cases where it is associated with:

  • Unexplained fever
  • Weakness of any limb or an unexplained difficulty in walking
  • Loss of defecation and/or urinary control
  • Sensory loss
  • Unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite
  • Signs of spine arthritis on X-Rays
  • X-Rays showing decreased inter-vertebral space or collapse of vertebral bodies

In such situations, the MRI could help make a diagnosis of, or exclude:

  • Spinal cord problems:
    • Spinal cord trauma
    • Spinal cord abscess (infection)
    • Cauda equina syndrome
    • Spinal cord tumor
    • Tethered cord syndrome
  • Disc problems:
    • Slipped disc
    • Discitis (infection of the intervertebral disc)
    • Disc degeneration
  • Spinal canal diseases:
    • Spinal canal stenosis
    • Hypertrophy of longitudinal ligaments
  • Vertebrae problems:
    • Compression fractures

If you are suffering from back ache, stiffness or pain, and are unsure whether an MRI is necessary,
simply call us at +65 6732 2397 or leave a message below for Dr Tan to discuss a customized non-invasive back pain solution for you.