Lifestyle Physio Cronulla Blog

To Scan or Not to Scan?

Do you NEED a scan? SHOULD you have a scan? WHY are you having a scan?

Recent studies have shown an increase in the prescription of scans for non-traumatic, musculoskeletal pain…. But why are we scanning more?

Physiotherapists must adhere to strict guidelines of care, which currently state that diagnostic scans (x-ray, CT, MRI etc) are discouraged unless what they might show will change how we treat. What does that mean?

If you develop lower back pain, for no particular reason, x-ray should NOT be out first step in providing treatment. At Lifestyle Physio Cronulla we use education, advice, activity modification and exercise to make a change to your pain.

What if the pain isn’t changing? Should you scan then?

Again, we use our guidelines to answer this question. Will a scan change how we treat you? Most commonly the answer is, no. We use the introduction of different treatment techniques and exercises to target your pain. Have you been doing what we discussed? Before you subject your body to unnecessary radiation or your wallet to unnecessary expense- make sure you have tried every conservative approach prescribed (i.e. do your homework!).

When MUST we scan?

Have you had a traumatic injury? A fall, an impact or accident? Scanning IS recommended then.

Research has given physiotherapists a vast array of tests and screening tools to use when we do our assessment. Lifestyle Physio Cronulla’s practitioners ask specific questions about both how and when your pain started, and what you can and can’t do to ascertain if we need to send you off for imaging.

Have you got worsening pain? Or pain at night?

If you have been doing all your homework and still are finding the pain to be unrelenting and unmanageable it is our responsibility to refer you for a scan, or discuss doing so with your GP.

So, SHOULD you get a scan?

Initially, no. You don’t need a referral to come and see a physiotherapist. And we are well educated in who does, and who doesn’t benefit from scanning. Lifestyle Physio have excellent relationships with radiographers in the Sutherland Shire and will refer you on if assessment suggests.

Let us help you get back to doing what you love.

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