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Article: Scans

25th Aug 2020

It is estimated that 40% to 50% of the population in the UK experience back pain in any given year.

With normal clinical care 80% of them will recover within six weeks. The remaining five million go on to have back pain that needs some sort of help and investigation.

Dr Dries Hettinga, head of research at the UK charity Backcare, said: “While back pain is very common, we still have a very poor understanding of this condition and its causes. “Health professionals play a vital role in reassuring patients.

“While it may seem that sending patients for an X-ray or MRI can provide this reassurance, the scans often reveal very little.

“With the right information and support, most people are able to manage their pain and find that it gets better within days or weeks.”

The draft guidelines from NICE say X-ray and MRI investigations of the spine should be limited to when tumours, breaks, fusions or serious inflammation and infection is suspected. It advises all people with lower back pain to exercise, if necessary in supervised groups, and that doctors should be able to offer a course of manual therapy or acupuncture.