Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

I had an MRI which shows I do not have a herniated disc in my neck, but I'm still in pain. My orthopedic surgeon is telling me I'm fine, is my injury case over?

Answer: Not necessarily. Medical providers use MRI examinations as a diagnostic tool to assess for soft tissue injuries in accident victims. The most widely known finding on an MRI involves a herniated disc.

A herniated disc refers to a problem with one of the rubbery cushions (discs) between the individual bones (vertebrae) that stack up to make your spine.

A spinal disc is a little like a jelly donut, with a softer center encased within a tougher exterior. Sometimes called a slipped disc or a ruptured disc, a herniated disc occurs when some of the softer "jelly" pushes out through a tear in the tougher exterior. A herniated disc can irritate nearby nerves and result in pain, numbness or weakness in an arm or leg. Herniated discs can require invasive procedures such as epidural steroid injections and even surgery to resolve symptoms.

However, a herniated disc is not the only spinal cord injury that can cause pain. In fact, certain injuries that cause a wealth of pain, and commonly result from injury accidents, do not necessarily show up on MRI examinations.

For example, facet hypertrophy is the term used to describe injury to facet joints. These joints are a pair of small joints at each level along the back of the spine, and are designed to provide support, stability, and flexibility to the spine. Injuries to facet joints are commonplace in motor vehicle accidents and trucking collisions. These injuries generally do not manifest on X-ray, CT, or MRI examinations.

Instead, facet joint injuries are typically diagnosed through patient history of the injury causing event and physical examination. Facet joint injuries can require epidural steroid injections and radiofrequency nerve ablations in order to resolve severe pain. These procedures are most typically performed by an anesthesiologist or physiatrist that specializes in pain management, as opposed to an orthopedic or neurosurgeon.

Handling injury cases involves being able to advise clients to see the appropriate specialists when they are hitting a dead end in terms of diagnosing and resolving their painful complaints. Kathleen Ryan is an attorney and nurse who routinely assists clients in this regard. She and the other attorneys at Ryan, Ryan & Landa are ready and available to discuss your injury case and the injuries you are experiencing as a result.

Please contact us today for your free case consultation.

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