Kim Jong-Un, The Rock, and Bill Nye the Science Guy
Updated: Feb 11, 2021
What do Kim, Dwayne and Billy Nye all have in common?
A positive MRI or CT scan that shows spine degeneration.
How do I know this?
No, I haven't seen their medical imaging or even assessed them - but I know their age.
And spine "degeneration" is a normal process of aging that occurs in all individuals.
It's like wrinkles, but on the inside. Wrinkles don't hurt. Wrinkles show how much we have smiled and enjoyed the sun. We don't need a face lift for our face to function (remember this the next time a surgeon jumps straight to surgery)
A recent systematic review (high level of evidence) supports the notion that "positive findings" on MRIs shouldn't be considered abnormal:
"The results from this systematic review strongly suggest that when degenerative spine findings are incidentally seen (ie, as part of imaging for an indication other than pain or an incidental disk herniation at a level other than where a patient’s pain localizes), these findings should be considered as normal age-related changes rather than pathologic processes.
With a prevalence of degenerative findings of >90% in asymptomatic individuals 60 years of age or older, our study supports the hypothesis that degenerative changes observed on CT and MR imaging are often seen with normal aging."
The key word here is "asymptomatic" - none of these patients had any pain. Yet they had positive findings!
Structure does not dictate function.
Over and over again, studies support this concept.
We are not our medical scans and imaging is just a small part of the thousand piece jigsaw puzzle that is our body.
Getting surgery based solely on medical imaging is a poor decision on the patient's part and suggesting surgery based solely on medical imaging is poor medicine on the surgeon's part.
If your medical provider is trying to convince you of aggressive medical interventions (drugs, shots, surgery) based on imaging then you should walk out the door and find better care.