Is there value in getting imaging?

Imaging can be a useful tool when used effectively, but at the same time, the relationship between findings on imaging and pain experience can be a little tenuous. So, what goes into the decision of whether to refer someone for imaging? This blog will aim to shed some light on the considerations that go into that process.  


Is there structural pathology that needs special management?

Some injuries, such as fractures or ruptures, need to be immobilised or surgically managed for optimal healing. Your physiotherapist will weigh up the likelihood of there being structural pathology that needs special management and refer accordingly. 


Are you considering further medical intervention? 

In a situation where you are considering further medical intervention, such as a cortisone injection, imaging can be used to corroborate the presence, size, and severity of the pathology to predict likelihood of effectiveness.


Is it even musculoskeletal pain?  

Is there a chance it isn’t musculoskeletal? Some medical conditions can masquerade as musculoskeletal pain, such as cancer or heart attacks. If your pain presents non-mechanically or there is an absence of expected treatment response, your physiotherapist may refer you for further imaging. 


In the end, it comes down to whether imaging will change your management plan. 

In most cases, it won’t, and is therefore not indicated.  

However, consult with your physiotherapist to decide whether it is suitable for your individual case. 


Jonathan Thai
Physiotherapist, Living Fit Instructor

Jonathan graduated with a Physiotherapy degree from Curtin University, and has worked in a variety of settings ranging from residential care, hospital and private practice. 

Jonathan has a passion for delivering individually tailored physiotherapy to all his clients, and blends manual therapy with exercise therapy to help clients achieve their functional goals.

He can usually be found struggling to balance exercise with indulging on good food. Recently however, most of his spare time is spent lounging around with his cat whilst looking after his new baby boy.

Therapy Interests

Shoulder pain
Knee pain
Post-operative conditions
Resistance and plyometric training