I told you that x-rays do not show soft tissue injury. However, they may show changes to the shape of the spine (which is bone) caused by muscle spasm. Generally, however, x-rays are of little use in showing soft tissue injury. A CT scan or CAT scan is a 3-D x-ray, and also of little use in diagnosing soft tissue injury. Commonly used to show herniated or bulging discs is: Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI. Rather than using radiation, the MRI uses a magnetic field to show soft tissue – muscle, ligaments, and organs. Insurance companies do not like to pay for MRI testing, because it’s expensive.
Here’s a secret: Some doctors like MRI tests because. . . they’re expensive. Beware of medical facilities that overtest with MRIs following an accident. Some unscrupulous facilities will send an automobile accident patient for too, too many MRIs, for every imaginable body part. Insurance companies pick up on this rather quickly, and the damage to the reputation of that doctor or facility may hurt your 21 GARY E. ROSENBERG lawsuit.
On the other hand, if you have pain in your neck or back that doesn’t go away, and especially if you have nerve-type shooting pains (remember: radiculopathy or radiculitis) you may want to make certain that your doctor does send you for an MRI of the affected body part. At the minimum, this is something that you may want to discuss with your physician.
Another secret: A problem with MRIs is that they are subject to interpretation. That means that one specialist (a radiologist) can read an MRI film and see a serious accident-related soft-tissue injury while another radiologist – typically hired by an insurance company to defend a lawsuit – may see no injury, or an old, pre-existing injury, or nothing much at all: just degenerative changes due to the passage of time and wear-and-tear on the body, but nothing accident-related.