Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Will a CT scan of my spine show how to treat my injury?"
I was in a car accident when I was 38 and my back pain has gotten worse and worse. Will a CT scan help?
I am so sorry to hear that you have had a history of back pain, which can be a very debilitating condition. If the pain has continued for some time, it is very common for your physician to use some sort of imaging modality to see if there is any obvious source of your pain. Often, the first step in these situations is to obtain an x-ray, which is very good at demonstrating obvious bony abnormalities, such as malposition of the vertebrae, breaks, or other chronic damage. It is likely that you have had multiple x-rays of your back in the past, although you don't mention your current age, and so this might be less helpful for you if that information is already known. Depending on your symptoms and what causes you the most pain during your normal life, your doctor might then recommend 1 of 2 other common imaging modalities. CT scans are multiple x-rays shot from different angles and then reconfigured to make a great picture of what the bone are doing. They are not exceptionally good when it comes soft tissue injuries, such as muscle inflammation, however. For that reason, your doctor may recommend an MRI. Please continue to discuss your back pain and your questions with your doctor.
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