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Can my doctor make a diagnosis without an MRI?

I just read an article in the New York Times that discussed the overuse of an MRI for diagnosis of an orthopedic injury. The highly respected orthopedist James Andrews from Florida who treats many professional athletes recently looked at this imaging tool in a recent study. He looked at over 30 healthy professional pitchers who had no pain or injury but had MRI  findings  that indicated  “abnormal shoulder cartilage in 90 percent of them and abnormal rotator cuff tendons in 87 percent”.
My mantra holds true once again “You can’t treat an MRI!“.   These are necessary for ruling out a tumors or making the call between two competing diagnoses.  Of equal importance is a thorough history and clinical examination from an orthopedist or a physical therapist.  The MRI is just a part of the whole clinical picture and not always needed.
As pointed out in the article doctors are perceived as not doing due diligence when they don’t order a MRI or other imaging. There have been several studies that show support for Dr Andrews recent findings.  Follow this link for the New York Times article  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/29/health/mris-often-overused-often-mislead-doctors-warn.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&hpw.
My favorite quote from Dr. Andrews is “If you want an excuse to operate on a pitcher’s throwing shoulder, just get an M.R.I.”
At Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation we make every attempt to educate our patients receiving physical therapy in the Paramus, Ridgewood and greater Bergen County area about the process of receiving a proper diagnosis from their physician to avoid unnecessary surgery.

Tom Willemann

Tom Willemann

Tom Willemann is a premier physical therapist based out of Bergen County, New Jersey. He holds an MS in physical therapy from the University of Miami, is credentialed in the world-renowned McKenzie Method of Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT), and holds an OCS (Orthopedic Clinical Specialist) certification. As of 2018, there are approximately 14,000 ABPTS certified specialists in the nation and less than 400 of them are located in the state of New Jersey. Tom is the owner and director of Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation in Paramus. He opened the clinic, which specializes in spine and sports injury prevention, in 2004 after many years of experience in the field. Tom’s caring interest in others and his strong belief in continuity of care, combined with his clinic’s ability to find solutions for the most difficult orthopedic problems, have earned Apex Orthopedic Rehabilitation its excellent reputation with patients and medical professionals in northeastern New Jersey and beyond. A true “family man,” Tom takes pride in his clinic’s warm and welcoming environment.
Tom Willemann

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