I just read a new study that provides yet more evidence that the body can sustain substantial tissue damage that is not accompanied by pain.
In the new study, researchers evaluated 44 pain-free adolescent boys involved in rowing. They found that nine rowers (40%) had at least one abnormality detected by MRI in the lumbar spine, compared to only 2 in the control group. Completely different MRI results, but each group was pain free.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that tissue damage has nothing do with pain - I would certainly rather have a back that looks good on an MRI rather than one that has all sorts of issues. The point here is simply that there are many variables that factor into pain besides the condition of the body.