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Do You Really Need That MRI or X-ray?

November 3, 2023

The Hidden Truth About Hip Pain: Do You Really Need That MRI or X-ray?

Andrew Gorecki, DPT, Physical Therapist, Fellow of Applied Functional Science, Hip Pain Expert


We've all been there. A twinge in the hip, a sudden pain, and the immediate thought is, "I need to get this checked out." For many, the next step is an X-ray or MRI. But what if I told you that these images might not be the answer you're looking for?


The Misconception About Imaging

When we experience pain or discomfort, our instinct is to find out exactly what's going on inside our bodies. It's only natural. We want answers, and we want them fast. But here's the thing: an X-ray or MRI might not provide the clarity you're hoping for. In fact, these images can sometimes muddy the waters even more.


Many patients come to us believing that an image will pinpoint the exact cause of their pain. But in reality, these images often show conditions like arthritis, bursitis, or even a labral tear. While these might sound alarming, they're often just symptoms of a larger issue. And that issue? It's not always directly related to the hip.


The Real Culprit

Let me share a story with you. I recently worked with a gentleman who had been plowing snow for years. A tough job, especially during those harsh Northern Michigan winters. Over time, he developed severe hip pain. An X-ray revealed a bone-on-bone situation, and he was told he needed a hip replacement. But he wasn't ready to go under the knife.


After attending one of our workshops, he came to us for a consultation. We discovered that the real issue wasn't his hip at all. It was his thoracic spine. Years of sitting and twisting had taken its toll. With targeted physical therapy, he was soon back to plowing snow, pain-free. No surgery required.


What Research Says

Studies have shown that imaging results can be misleading. One study found that many asymptomatic individuals had imaging results showing femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) or labral injury. Another found that a significant number of patients showed labral tears in MRIs of their non-symptomatic hips. The takeaway? Just because an image shows an "issue" doesn't mean it's the root cause of your pain.


The Role of Imaging

Now, I'm not saying that imaging doesn't have its place. It's a valuable tool, especially when surgery is on the table. It gives surgeons a clear roadmap. But if you're looking for answers to your hip pain, it might not be the best first step.


Trust your healthcare provider. If they believe you don't need an MRI or X-ray, listen to them. It could save you time, money, and unnecessary stress.


Ready to Find Real Solutions?

If you're tired of living with hip pain and want genuine answers, join us at our next Hip Pain Relief Workshop at Superior Physical Therapy. Dive deep into understanding hip pain, discover its root causes, and learn about effective, lasting solutions.


🌟 Exclusive Invitation: Secure your spot for this transformative experience. Let's journey towards a pain-free life together.


🔗 Get more info or Register for the Workshop Now! https://www.thesuperiortherapy.com/hippainrelief



Frank, Jonathan M. et al. “Prevalence of Femoroacetabular Impingement Imaging Findings in Asymptomatic Volunteers: A Systematic Review.” Arthroscopy, Volume 31, Issue 6, pp. 1199 – 1204.

Vahedi, Hamed MD; Aalirezaie, Arash MD; Azboy, Ibrahim MD; Daryoush, Tanine BA; Shahi, Alisina MD; and Parvizi, Javad MD. “Acetabular Labral Tears Are Common in Asymptomatic Contralateral Hips With Femoroacetabular Impingement.” Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. FRCS May 2019, Volume 477, Issue 5, pp. 974-979.


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