Dealing with chronic neck or back pain can be life-altering and affect your relationships, work and leisure pursuits. One aspect that can add to the frustration and anxiety of pain is not knowing what the best course of treatment is, or if finding relief is even possible. It can even start to feel like giving up and just “accepting the pain” is your best option.
Fortunately, there are effective treatment options and many people living with a spine condition are able to find lasting relief and return to a good quality of life. Often, the first step is simply learning more about your condition and what the available treatment options are. That is why it is common for spine centers to offer patients a free MRI review of an existing MRI report.
To help you better understand how this process works and what you should expect, take some time to read over the following information. We’re here to help, and welcome you to reach out to a member of our team at any time if you have any questions or would like to learn more.
Free MRI review — the basics
The most important thing to understand about a spine center offering a free MRI review is that it is a review of an existing MRI, or magnetic resonance imagery, report. This means that patients need to already have an MRI, or other suitable imagery available for review.
Additionally, a spine center offering a free or no-cost MRI review is not to be confused with an offer for a free MRI. Typically, people who do not have imagery to review will be instructed to make arrangements with their physician to have an order for the taking of diagnostic imagery.
MRI is the type of imagery that spine centers typically review because it offers the best visualization of soft tissue, such as disc and joint material, in the spine. X-rays are optimal for detecting bone problems such as fractures, but they are less able to detect soft tissue injuries and conditions.
If possible, reviewing a current MRI report is best
Although many spine centers will review an older MRI, most will recommend sending a recent image if at all possible. This is because spine conditions are often progressive in nature. For example, it’s highly possible that a bulging disc on an older MRI may have developed into a herniated disc in the ensuing years — especially if pain has recently worsened.
To start to approach potential treatment options, spine experts will typically want to look at imagery that corresponds with an onset of symptoms. However, in some situations, an older MRI can give the reviewer at least a preliminary idea about potential treatment options. Often, especially when surgery is the recommendation, the surgeon will want to have a new MRI taken for the most current picture of the spine condition.
Ask who is reviewing the MRI and what the process is
Patients receiving a free MRI review should also be aware that the review is generally for informational purposes and is not a medical diagnosis. However, the more qualified the reviewer the better. Depending on the spine center, there are a range of qualified medical professionals who can review an MRI to determine potential treatments for a spine condition. These can include:
- Spine surgeons
- Interventional pain management physicians
- Physician’s assistants or nurse practitioners
The actual process for reviewing a spine MRI report can also vary. Most spine centers today offer the ability to upload the imagery and MRI report securely and directly for review. It is also usually possible to mail a physical copy of the report for review. Once the MRI report has been received, patients can then schedule a call or video conference with the reviewer.
Patients who live near the spine center may also be able to schedule an in-person consultation with a spine surgeon, physician or other expert, to review the MRI. Whether it is in-person, over the phone or virtual, patients will generally receive a detailed explanation of their report to understand any conditions that are visible. You should also expect to have an in-depth discussion of your specific symptoms and how they are affecting your life as well as the treatments you’ve attempted up to this point.
With this information, the person reviewing the MRI can make potential treatment recommendations based
Reach out to a spine center with a range of treatment options
For a patient dealing with severe chronic pain from a spine condition, a free MRI review may reveal that surgery is the recommended treatment option. In other cases however, patients may still benefit from conservative treatments, including physical therapy and therapeutic spine injections.
At USA Spine Care, we are a highly experienced interdisciplinary spine care team helping patients in state-of-the-art centers across the United States. Patients who come to us for relief can expect the highest level of care, whether conservative treatment or surgery is the recommendation.
To learn more about receiving a review of your MRI to determine the right course of treatment for you, contact us today or call toll free at 1-813-773-3050.