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MRIs Don’t Diagnose Chronic Pain…They Create It


Chronic pain is not a medical phenomenon, it is a cultural phenomenon. It has never existed in the annals of medical history as long as man has roamed the Earth…until the 1980s. Strangely enough, chronic pain only became mainstream when the medical system decided that it had a new weapon (the MRI) in addressing pain and decided to impart its impact globally.

Let me be extremely blunt about this: If your chronic pain is diagnosed through an MRI, you have at least a 90% chance of being misdiagnosed. Wrap your head around this number. More than 9 out of 10 of every one of you will get an incorrect diagnosis leading to unending treatment and indefinite pain. If you (or someone you know) is suffering with chronic pain and you read this column yet continue to utilize the existing medical system, the blame for your continued suffering will be yours.

I explained some of this in my very first blog, MRIs Misdiagnose the Cause of Chronic Pain. But in working on publicity for my newest book (The Yass Method for Pain-Free Movement: A Guide to Easing through Your Day without Aches and Pains), the pervasiveness of the problem—the misunderstanding and the mistreatment—grows even more infuriating to me. Here, I am going to provide irrefutable facts about the MRI and why it is, in fact, baseless in identifying the cause of pain.

First, some important facts about pain…

In this earlier blog, I explained how pain is an indication of a tissue in distress, emitted to create awareness of the distress so that it can be resolved. Once relieved, the tissue no longer has to emit the emergency distress signal and the pain ceases. So right here it, should be clear that you need to identify the tissue in distress in order to resolve pain.

It should also be very clear that treatment should never evolve around simply addressing the signal of pain. Think about a fire raging in your house and the fire alarm is blaring. Should you take the battery out of the fire alarm to stop the deafening blare? Of course not. Although the alarm would quiet, your house would shortly succumb to the fire–not the result you were looking for. This is what it looks like when a medical practitioner tells you he or she will resolve your pain but never identifies the actual tissue in distress.

Next fact: The inception of pain begins at the inception of distress of the tissue emitting the pain. If you have an irritant in your nose, you don’t start to sneeze six months before the irritant entered the nose nor six months after. The sneezing begins at the time of the irritant. If you have heart problems, the palpitations begin at the time of distress of the heart, not six months before or after. If your pain begins at a certain point, it must be said that the distress of the tissue begins at the same time. Remember this when we get to analysis of the MRI below.

5 Reasons Why MRIs Can’t Diagnose Most Pain

Now that we have an understanding on the origins of pain, here’s why MRI’s don’t help resolve it.

  1. The MRI is based on correlative theory. A person has pain and an MRI is performed at the time the pain exists. A structural variation is identified and because it is identified at the time the pain exists it is said to be the cause of the pain. This is called correlative theory. It simply says that since two events exist at the same time they must be connected…and it is junk science. Example: Every morning for six months, I go to my front door and open it as the sun rises. Can I now say that my opening the front door causes the sun to rise? Of course not. But this is the same flawed logic that has joined your collective fates to the MRI.
  2. 2. The MRI does not meet the requirements of a proper hypothesis and null hypothesis. Let’s take it to the next step. You are told that the mere identification of these structural variations showing up on your MRI indicate the cause of your pain. If this is true and the hypothesis is that structural variations cause pain then the null hypothesis says that those people with no pain should have no structural variations. That is funny because in one study of people ages 60 and older, over 90% of people with no back pain had bulging or degenerative discs.

Another study showed that 63% of people with knee pain have meniscal tears while of 60% of those who have no knee pain have meniscal tears. Yet another study of 31 professional baseball pitchers with no shoulder pain pitching at the top of their games showed that 87% were found to have rotator cuff tears and 90% were found to have labral tears. The conclusion of the study was if you want to do surgery on somebody, simply get an MRI.

As you can see from the science, we have a method of diagnosing that is 100% dependent on correlative theory and does not match the requirement for basic scientific law in which a hypothesis and null hypothesis are met. This has nothing to do with a medical issue. These are requirements for scientific fact to be established.

  1. The MRI does not meet the presentation of addressing an existing issue. When a large-scale problem is identified, resources are invested to figure out how to resolve it. Take polio for example. Polio affected millions of people with debilitating symptoms. Jonas Salk created the polio vaccine and polio was eradicated; people simply don’t get the disease anymore. Compare that with MRIs and chronic pain. Chronic pain never existed prior to the 1980s. Then the MRI was added into the medical system along with the associated treatments. Yet the number of people suffering with chronic pain has never decreased. Wouldn’t you That’s not at all what would be expected if this medical device were actually helping to correct pain.
  2. Symptoms don’t exist where they would have to if the structural variation were creating a symptom. Remember I said that a tissue in distress emits the pain being experienced? That means pain would be experienced in the same place where that structural variation is identified.

Let’s take a meniscal tear at the knee. This tissue exists at the knee joint between the thigh bone and lower leg bone. If it were to create pain, the pain would have to be experienced at the joint line (space between the thigh bone and lower leg bone). Yet almost every person I have treated with this diagnosis had pain around the knee cap and not at the joint line. This means without question that the pain around the knee cap cannot be coming from the meniscus…period.

A person gets pain at the shoulder and is told that the cause is osteoarthritis. Yet the mere presence of arthritis is meaningless; everybody, to some degree or another, will have it in their lifetime. Arthritis is not an inflammatory issue but a mechanical wearing down of the surfaces of a joint, and it will only cause pain if the joint space between the two bones is completely lost. Therefore, if full range of motion exists then arthritis cannot be the cause of pain…period.

Sticking with the shoulder example…let’s say you have pain at the front of your shoulder. Commonly, the pain is coming from your bicep tendon, which you’ll notice if you press on it. So here you can even identify the tissue in distress and yet an imaging test showing arthritis will lead to a different path of treatment.

I can go joint by joint and show you that in almost every case the symptoms being experienced do not match where they would need to be if the identified structural variation were causing the symptoms.

  1. The failures of surgery to correct “structural variations” to relieve pain outweigh the successes exponentially. The medical establishment coined the phrase “failed back surgery syndrome” to account for those who have surgery for back pain but continue to have the same pain. Look at that diagnosis! They have no idea what is causing your pain. Are you okay with this? I’m not.

The failure rate for back surgery is over 70%. The number of hip and joint revisions is staggering. Those addicted to prescription pain medication in the US is over 22 million.

A study looking at arthritis as the cause of knee pain divided participants into three groups…
* One group got a debridement, in which the arthritis is scraped out.
* One got their knee flushed.
* The last group had a mock surgery.
The results are identical regardless of the group. The conclusion of the study is that arthritis doesn’t cause knee pain.

Another study looked at back pain and vertebral fractures. Everybody in the study had both back pain and compression fractures. One group got cement injected in the fracture site to cure it while the other group got a mock surgery. The results of the two groups were identical.

In the 1950s post-mortem studies showed that over 40% of the population had herniated discs. If what you have been told is true, where was the mass indication of pain in the 1950s?

Now what?

As I stated at the outset, chronic pain is not a medical phenomenon. It is a cultural phenomenon. It is the result of 40 years of identification of arthritis and herniated discs and being programmed to believe that the mere identification of these requires surgery, like a cancer.

I have given five indicators to prove my position. There is literally not one shred of medical evidence to refute this. I also happen to have spent 25 years treating 15,000 people, utilizing my unique approach to diagnosing and treating pain, with a success rate that is unrivaled by any other medical practitioner.

As individuals, you are like sheep to the slaughter simply because you do not realize you have any recourse. The answer is that you will have to join together and get politically active or look to create a legal precedent and create a 100 million person class-action suit for damages (including loss of life for those who committed suicide from not being able to live with pain any longer, loss of work and family and loss of ability to live the life you so richly deserve). I am one person with the facts that are clear, but this machine will continue and chronic pain will continue indefinitely unless we demand a change.

Click here to buy Mitchell Yass’s books, Overpower Pain: The Strength Training Program That Stops Pain Without Drugs or Surgery, The Pain Cure Rx: The Yass Method for Resolving the Cause of Chronic Pain and his newest book, The Yass Method for Pain-Free Movement: A Guide to Easing through Your Day without Aches and Pains.

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