Lumbar Spine MRI for Lower Back Pain

June 10, 2022 – 3 min read

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Many people experience pain in the lumbar spine or lower back. Often, this pain goes away on its own, but when it doesn’t, it can seriously impact your ability to go about your daily activities. If you experience lower back pain that is bothersome and does not go away on its own, make an appointment with your doctor. Based on your symptoms, he or she might order a lumbar spine MRI to help pinpoint the cause of your pain.

What does an MRI for lower back pain show?

Lower spine pain can stem from many different issues, ranging from muscle soreness to problems with the vertebrae and the disks that separate them. Common causes include:

  • Sprains and strains
  • Disk problems, such as a herniated disk or degenerative disk disease
  • Sciatica (nerve pain)
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Compression fracture of the vertebra
  • Spinal stenosis

In most cases, lower back pain is not caused by a serious problem. However, any of the muscles, organs and tissues in the lumbar area can be the source of pain, which is why an accurate diagnosis is important.

MRI imaging can be a helpful tool, as it gives a detailed view of your spinal anatomy. A lumbar spine MRI shows:

  • The alignment of your spine
  • Details about the intervertebral disks, such as whether they appear normal, herniated, dehydrated or worn down
  • The size of your spinal canal and whether the spinal cord is being compressed
  • Whether any nerves are compressed or inflamed
  • Injuries to bones, ligaments and the spinal cord
  • Any birth defects on or near the spine that could cause pain
  • Tumors in the spinal cord, vertebrae, nerves or surrounding tissues
  • Signs of infection

Your doctor will use the results of an MRI along with findings from a physical exam and your symptoms to arrive at a diagnosis and recommended treatment plan.

Touchstone Medical Imaging offers high-quality MRI imaging at 40% to 60% less than the cost of hospital imaging. After getting a doctor’s order, make an appointment at one of our many convenient centers.

What to expect when getting a lumbar MRI

An MRI is a noninvasive scan that uses magnets and radiofrequency waves to create detailed images of internal structures of the body. A low-risk procedure, MRI does not expose you to any radiation.

An outpatient MRI appointment need not take much time out of your day. A technologist will help you lie down on an exam table that slides into the MRI machine. Usually, the entire process takes about 30 to 60 minutes. After the exam, a board-certified radiologist will interpret your results, providing information to help your doctor create a treatment plan.

A convenient way to get answers to back pain

Life is busy, and it can be tempting to ignore lower back pain and simply hope it goes away. But it’s important to determine what’s causing your lumbar spine pain and ensure it’s not a sign of a more serious condition. Touchstone Medical Imaging makes getting an MRI fast and easy, with multiple centers and convenient hours, including evenings and weekends.

Touchstone Medical Imaging’s subspecialized, board-certified radiologists provide doctors with precise results they can trust. If your doctor has ordered an MRI to help diagnose back pain, make an appointment at a Touchstone Medical Imaging Center near you.