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What does your test mean?

Did you have a test or an X-Ray taken? Learn more about what your results mean. And remember - talk to your doctor to learn more about your pain. 

Did you have a neck or low back X-Ray?
Here are five important points!

Over time, the way your joints look on an X-ray will change, and radiologists use the term “degeneration” to describe these changes. This term sounds worse than it is, and everyone gets degeneration in their low back over time – it is like getting grey hair!

Most people become afraid after reading their X-ray results. Do not let this happen! Your doctor who ordered the test will tell you if there is cause for concern or if you need to see a specialist. Oftentimes, the X-ray confirms what your doctor suspected.

Degeneration on an X-ray does not mean you have to live with neck or low back pain! In fact, many people have neck or low back degeneration and never have any pain!

Degenerative changes of your neck or low back can contribute to your pain and stiffness, but there will be other causes, such as muscle pain. This is why therapy is often so helpful.


Rarely, this degeneration can cause nerve irritation (also called a “pinched nerve”). Because of this possible (but rare) risk, it is very important you get a thorough evaluation by a trained professional to see if nerve irritation has happened, because more testing may be needed. A physical examination and careful history are the best ways for your provider to detect a nerve irritation in your neck or low back, providing more helpful information than an MRI, for example.






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