Although you may get an X-ray as a routine part of your back-pain diagnosis, most back disorders won't show up on it. That's because X-rays provide pictures of bones, while 80% of low-back pain actually originates in the muscles, ligaments or disks. If your back pain is caused by a herniated disk, an X-ray will do little to aid the diagnosis, since disks, like muscles and ligaments, are soft tissues. Disks can be seen; however, with the newer imaging procedures such as CT scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), it has been noted that up to 30% of people with back pain having herniated disks, the source of discomfort was not the disk itself, but muscular and/or ligaments in origin.
- When does X-ray become necessary?
- After a series of modalities of treatments and your back pain does not respond
- A recent accident or possible fracture
- Severe numbness or weakness on the injured part
- History of cancer
A short list above that usually would require an X-ray as a precautionary measure.