As a women’s physio who treats a LOT of back pain, I’m often asked by clients if they should get an MRI, or if there’s any point in seeing me without one.

I get it—images of your spine seem like they offer concrete answers. But unfortunately, they don’t always align with your symptoms.

Pain can exist without significant findings, and vice versa.

Our bodies aren’t predictable machines. We now know that pain is more complex than just structural issues.

Here are 5 things I care MORE about than your MRI results:

1️⃣What you can’t do: I want to know which positions, movements, and activities don’t feel good, and what you wish you could do but can’t because of pain or fear.

2️⃣What you CAN do: More importantly, I want to know what you can do. Finding pain-free ways to move provides positive input to our brain, reducing threat responses, spasms, and pain, and improving confidence.

3️⃣What you think is causing your pain: Your beliefs about your pain—what you think is contributing, what you’ve been told, and what you visualize happening in your back—can heavily influence your pain experience and recovery.

4️⃣What else is going on for you: I want to know if you’re feeling supported, under stress, or getting enough rest. These factors can greatly impact your pain and healing.

5️⃣What you are expecting from treatment: I often ask, “What do you hope to get out of our session today?” This helps ensure we use our time wisely and align our expectations. Are you expecting a fix or support in managing your pain and recovery? Being on the same page is key.