Dynamic Disc Designs
Upright MRI

Upright MRI: Shedding Light on the Mystery of Back Pain

Do you ever wonder why some people with back pain have a hard time finding relief, even after undergoing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans? A team of researchers led by F. Alyas, D. Connell, and A. Saifuddin has uncovered an important clue. In their groundbreaking study, they discovered that traditional supine MRI, where patients lie flat on their backs, may not always reveal the true causes of back pain. Fortunately, there’s a new imaging technique called upright MRI that allows patients to recreate the positions that trigger their symptoms, potentially unlocking hidden findings. Let’s delve into this exciting research and its implications for understanding the spine.


The Positional Dependence of Spinal Stenosis:

When it comes to diagnosing low back pain and radiculopathy, supine MRI has been the go-to imaging technique. However, there’s a problem: the images often don’t align with what patients experience. This discrepancy arises from spinal stenosis, a condition where the spinal canal narrows, putting pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. The positional dependence of spinal stenosis means that the symptoms and imaging findings can vary based on the patient’s position. This is where upright MRI comes in.

Unveiling the Secrets with Upright MRI:

Upright MRI allows patients to assume different positions, such as flexed, extended, rotated, standing, and bending, while being scanned. By mimicking the positions that trigger their symptoms, patients have a chance to uncover hidden MRI findings that were previously invisible on supine imaging. These findings include changes in soft-tissue structures like ligaments, discs, dural sac, epidural fat, and nerve roots. With upright MRI, the relationship between spinal stability, degeneration, and postoperative changes can also be assessed.

Bridging the Gap between Symptoms and Imaging:

The literature reviewed by Alyas, Connell, and Saifuddin emphasizes the importance of upright MRI in providing a comprehensive evaluation of both normal and symptomatic spines. This imaging technique helps bridge the gap between clinical symptoms and imaging findings, offering valuable diagnostic information. By reproducing symptomatic positions, upright MRI offers a clearer understanding of the causes of back pain and radiculopathy, leading to more accurate diagnoses and better treatment strategies.

The Impact on Patient Care:

Upright MRI has the potential to revolutionize the way healthcare professionals diagnose and manage spinal conditions. By utilizing this advanced imaging technique, doctors can gain a deeper understanding of their patients’ conditions, helping them tailor treatment plans more effectively. Upright MRI also enables healthcare providers to educate their patients about the causes of their symptoms, facilitating a stronger doctor-patient partnership.


In the quest to unravel the mysteries of back pain, upright MRI stands as a powerful tool. Researchers like F. Alyas, D. Connell, and A. Saifuddin have shown that this innovative imaging technique can reveal hidden findings, allowing patients and healthcare professionals to gain a better understanding of spinal conditions. 

One company that has taken this knowledge to heart is Dynamic Disc Designs, which has developed the Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Dynamic Disc Model. This product replicates the dynamic changes within the spine and helps healthcare professionals visually demonstrate the impact of spinal stenosis on patients’ well-being. 

Lumbar model

By using the Lumbar Spinal Stenosis Dynamic Disc Model, doctors can enhance patient education and improve treatment outcomes. Through continued advancements in imaging technology and innovative products, we can look forward to a future where back pain is understood and managed more effectively than ever before.