My X-Ray Says I Have What? Words Matter.

Posted on in Clinical, News
My X-Ray Says I Have What? Words Matter.

Have you ever had an x-ray or an MRI, and you have no idea what the report means?

This is something that many patients experience during their episode of care. Patients may have to undergo further imaging to help rule in or rule out any serious pathology. The medical jargon and wording can cause patients to become worrisome. This is unfortunately common, where patients are left unclear about their own respective prognosis.

Interpreting imaging results can create a whole host of emotions and perceptions. It can be a little intimidating when we see our imaging results and there are alarming words or phrases, in which can cause us to feel a little scared. There is a heavy emphasis of biomechanical terminology.

So, you may be familiar with the terms:

My X-Ray Says I Have What? Words Matter.

However, many of these biomechanical changes or observations may not even be correlated with the patients’ clinical presentation. In fact, most of these changes could be viewed upon as ‘normal’. Numerous imaging-based degenerative features are most likely due to normal aging and unassociated with pain.1 Many patients have been traditionally educated how these findings are potentially correlated with their symptoms. As healthcare professionals, we need to do a better job of guiding patients throughout their own respective episode of care.

It becomes important that we can recognize specific words and phrases when we are speaking with our patients. We need to be able to recognize the patients’:

My X-Ray Says I Have What? Words Matter.

Perhaps, we can create a better experience by helping patients understand what they are experiencing, and what are some ways that can help them manage those symptoms.

We must be able to understand the patients’ perception may be different from our own.

Article Written By Eric Trauber, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS, FAAOMPT


1 Brinjikji W, Luetmer PH, Comstock B, Bresnahan BW, Chen LE, Deyo RA, Halabi S, Turner JA, Avins AL, James K, Wald JT, Kallmes DF, and Jarvik JG. Systematic literature review of imaging features of spinal degeneration in asymptomatic populations. AJNR, 2015, 36:811-816.