What is the difference between X-Rays, MRI and CT Scan?
X-rays are a type of radiation, and when they pass through the body, dense objects such as bone block the radiation and appear white on the x-ray film, while less dense tissues appear gray and are difficult to see. X-rays are typically used to diagnose and assess bone degeneration or disease, fractures and dislocations, infections, or tumors.
Organs and tissues within the body contain magnetic properties. MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, combines a powerful magnet with radio waves (instead of x-rays) and a computer to manipulate these magnetic elements and create highly detailed images of structures in the body. Images are viewed as cross sections or “slices” of the body part being scanned. There is no radiation involved as with x-rays. MRI scans are frequently used to diagnose bone and joint problems.
A computed tomography (CT) scan (also known as CAT scan) is similar to an MRI in the detail and quality of image it produces, yet the CT scan is actually a sophisticated, powerful x-ray that takes 360-degree pictures of internal organs, the spine, and vertebrae. By combining x-rays and a computer, a CT scan, like an MRI, produces cross-sectional views of the body part being scanned. In many cases, a contrast dye is injected into the blood to make the structures more visible. CT scans show the bones of the spine much better than MRI, so they are more useful in diagnosing conditions affecting the vertebrae and other bones of the spine.
Should I apply ice or heat to an injury?
Ice should be used in the acute stage of an injury (within the first 24-48 hours), or whenever there is swelling. Ice helps to reduce inflammation by decreasing blood flow to the area in which cold is applied. Heat increases blood flow and may promote pain relief after swelling subsides. Heat may also be used to warm up muscles prior to exercise or physical therapy.
What is physical therapy?
Physical therapy is the treatment of musculoskeletal and neurological injuries to promote a return to function and independent living. Physical therapy incorporates both exercise and functional training. Exercise restores motion and strength while functional training facilitates a return to daily activities, work, or sport.
What is a tendon? ligament? cartilage?
A tendon is a band of tissue that connects muscle to bone. A ligament is an elastic band of tissue that connects bone to bone and provides stability to the joint. Cartilage is a soft, gel-like padding between bones that protects joints and facilitates movement.
What are NSAIDs and how do they work?
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are non-prescription, over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen sodium. They are popular treatments for muscular aches and pains, as well as arthritis.
What are common causes of back pain?
The most common causes of back pain are those due to muscular pain, disc pain, or arthritis. Most muscular pain is due to deconditioning and/or acute strain. Most disc pain is secondary to either disc degeneration, i.e., a disc that loses its elasticity and becomes thinner, or a disc that herniates. Most discs that herniate create a nerve entrapment, which causes sciatica. Finally, the spine can have arthritis. In arthritis of joints of the spine, the facet joints lose their cartilage and grow bone spurs
What is the difference between a herniated disc and a bulging disc?
A bulging disc is an intact one that protrudes slightly as a result of degeneration. A herniated disc is one that has developed a hole in it and squirted out some of its soft inner material. If this material is compressing or causing inflammation of a nerve, it can cause back and/or leg pain. Bulging discs, on the other hand, can commonly be found in people who have no back or leg pain, and are considered a normal part of spine aging.
What is spinal stenosis?
Spinal stenosis is when the spinal canal or nerve root canals become narrowed by overgrowth of bone and ligament. This causes compression of the nerves and results in pain, weakness, or numbness.
What is osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a skeletal disease characterized by low bone mass, and the deterioration of bone architecture leading to bone fragility and increased risk of fracture. Bone normally rejuvenates itself through a process of bone absorption and formation called bone remodeling. Osteoporosis occurs when bone breakdown, or absorption, occurs at a rate greater than bone formation.
Am I at risk of developing osteoporosis?
There are many factors that can increase a woman's risk of osteoporosis. A few of the risk factors are:
Ethnicity-Caucasian and Asian
Petite, small frame
Excessive use of alcohol
Vitamin D deficiency
Chronic steroid use
Do I have osteoporosis?
In order to demonstrate bone loss, a bone scan would need to be performed. The most common type of bone scan is a DEXA test. A bone scan is recommended for all women over 65 years old. In addition, women with risk factors other than menopause, postmenopausal women with a history of a fracture and women considering therapy for osteoporosis should speak to their health care providers about early testing.
What is a bone scan and will it hurt?
A bone scan is an x-ray that can show bone loss in the spine and hip area. The test takes about 10-20 minutes.
How can I prevent/treat osteoporosis?
Treatment and prevention of osteoporosis depends on the severity of the disease. The first line of prevention is calcium supplementation and exercise. Medications can also be added if additional protection from osteoporosis is indicated.
How much calcium should I take?
Calcium should be taken after meals in divided doses of no more than 500mg. Calcium should be taken with vitamin D 400-800 IU.