More Back Pain Myths: MRI Abnormalities

Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI) researchers at...

Are you comfortable?

I just read a new study that provides yet more evidence that the body can sustain substantial tissue damage that is not accompanied by pain.

In the new study, researchers evaluated 44 pain-free adolescent boys involved in rowing. They found that nine rowers (40%) had at least one abnormality detected by MRI in the lumbar spine, compared to only 2 in the control group. Completely different MRI results, but each group was pain free.

Yet more evidence that pain lives in the brain not the body.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that tissue damage has nothing do with pain – I would certainly rather have a back that looks good on an MRI rather than one that has all sorts of issues. The point here is simply that there are many variables that factor into pain besides the condition of the body.

Hat tip to previous guest poster Paul Ingraham at (Do I need to point out that Paul got the news from Jason Silvernail?)

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10 Responses to “More Back Pain Myths: MRI Abnormalities”

  1. Todd – just had micro-discectomy after a year of trying everything. email me and I will describe for you how I learned that, while I love your work and believe that Sarno is on the same path, there are some spine injuries that really do need intervention.

    • Maurice,

      Sorry to hear about the back pain. Hope the surgery went well.

      I totally agree that there are many forms of tissue damage that will cause pain, and that a great amount pain is caused by tissue damage. My main point here is simply that the condition of the body is only one factor of many that determines whether pain will exist, and that nociception is neither sufficient nor necessary for pain.

      Thanks for the comment.

  2. Always strange to be reading the web and come across my own name … 🙂

    Thanks for the hat tip. Sure, why not mention Jason too? But that’s an easy case. I rtineoy come across an item that’s being put out there by literally a dozer more pele that I know. Who do you tip the ha to then?!

  3. What on earth happened to my words there?! Garbled!

  4. So maybe moral of the study is to be a good rower you should have some lumbar deficits on MRI. Just kidding…I think? Thanks for the post and reference link.


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