I just received an informative email from Cal Dietz, strength coach for University of Minnesota. His email went over the potential fallacies of trusting an MRI for various injuries. I thought I would just present the highlights. I've known about the herniation in healthy people study for a while, but the other body parts was new to me.
MRIs on people who had no back pain, 33% had spinal abnormality, and 20% had disc herniation, all under the age of 60.
MRI on pain free hockey players, 70% had abnormal pelvis and hips, 54% had labral tears.
MRI on knees of people age 20-68 with no knee pain. 60% showed abnormalities in at least 3 of the 4 regions of the knee. "Meniscal degenerations or tears are highly prevalent in asymptomatic individuals."
MRI on shoulders showed that 23% of people with pain free shoulders had a rotator cuff tear. Pain free overhead athletes in another study, 40% had rotator cuff tears, 0% on the non dominate arm.
So now you have pain, actual physical pain and you go in for an MRI and find something. Is surgery warranted? Maybe, but first exhaust all other avenues in terms of non invasive care. Because even though the pathology fits the pain, doesn't mean that is the cause.
Thanks for Coach Dietz for providing this great info. Pass it on when your friend says he or she is about to get an MRI.