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Most Entire Treatment Plans Cost Less Than an MRI!!!!


A new patient came in to the office today after reading my blog.  Not having insurance, he was a bit concerned about how much it would cost to be treated in our clinic.  This is always a difficult question to answer because it depends on many factors, including the overall health of the patient, the severity of the condition, and so on.

As with every new patient, the first thing I did is a consultation, where I talk with the patient and get an initial idea of what’s going on. (We never charge for this, by the way, even if you have the best insurance plan available) During this consultation, the patient related to me that he had been to a medical clinic where they did x-rays.  The x-rays showed “nothing,” (there’s a reason why nothing is in quotations — that discussion is destined to be the next blog) and the doctor wanted to do an MRI. If you don’t have insurance, an MRI of the lumbar spine is at least $1,000!

Obviously, my patient was concerned that I might want to send him for an MRI also.

After examining the patient, I found that his condition was significant, but definitely not so advanced that I would need an MRI scan to figure out what the problem was! I see cases just like his and much worse, as a matter of fact, and I can usually help them with out the aid of an EXPENSIVE MRI scan!!

Then I got to thinking . . . for the average patient in my office, the ENTIRE cost of their treatment plan is less expensive than one MRI scan!!  A few plans are more, but most are even LESS!!  And also, you must bear in mind that AN MRI DOES ABSOLUTELY NOTHING as far as getting you better.  It’s just a picture which, more times than not, doesn’t show what’s going on any better than my bare hands or a plain, old fashioned, cheap x-ray! I know that’s hard to believe, but recent studies show that MRI findings correlate directly with pain findings only 5 – 10% of the time!

Ok, occasionally I send someone for an MRI.  But truthfully, it’s very, very rare.  When I send a patient for an MRI, it means that  1) After the patient’s initial examination, I think they may have a condition that may require surgery or other medical intervention that is not provided in our clinic,  or 2) they are not responding to our treatment, and I’m truly worried that there is something potentially dangerous going on.  For those cases, I’m very thankful for MRI technology.

So, here’s the take-home message:  Most primary care providers aren’t that great at diagnosing and treating most spine and joint problems.  Don’t get me wrong, I love primary care providers.  I even married one!!  If you are a diabetic with a new burning sensation in your foot, or you have severe hypertension, PLEASE don’t call my office!  That’s not my area of expertise!  But, if your back or neck keeps bothering you, or you keep having headaches (most of those are related to the neck — I’ll tell you if they’re not) . . . CALL ME!!  Or, if you prefer, you can go to your PCP, PAY FOR AN MRI, try some pharmaceutical treatment which rarely works, and THEN call my office!!

By on July 15th, 2010 | Tagged with: | Leave a Comment


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