When a client of mine gets an MRI scan, they will often come back with intervertebral disc herniations or disc bulges. The problem is that more information is needed to determine if the herniation: (a) arose before or after the injury event; and (b) if it is causing my client’s pain. People are more likely to naturally develop herniations as they age. In fact: 4-28 percent of adults will naturally have a lumbar herniation with no pain; and 4-8 percent of asymptomatic adults will naturally have a cervical herniation with no pain (according to a 1990 study in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery and a 2005 study published in the Journal of Whiplash and Related Disorders, respectively).
These degenerative or preexisting herniations are more likely to be found among the elderly. So it is much easier to correlate a herniation to a specific injury / car accident in my younger clients.
For additional help, we will look at the hydration levels of the immediately surrounding discs (desiccation or low levels of hydration indicate a chronic degenerative process).
In addition, we will look at the changes to the vertebral bodies immediately adjacent to the bulging or herniated disc at issue. These changes to the vertebral bodies are referred to as Modic Changes (first studied by Dr. Michael Modic in 1988) and can only been seen via MRI imaging.