When you have an injury or illness that brings you to the doctor, they may want to do some type of diagnostic testing. An MRI scan is one type of diagnostic imaging test that your doctor may want to use that will provide them with highly detailed images of your internal structures. MRI actually stands for “magnetic resonance imaging” and is a type of diagnostic test that uses magnets and radio waves to create these diagnostic images.
Unlike an X-ray or a CT scan, when you get an MRI scan it won’t involve exposing you to any radiation. There are many reasons why your doctor might recommend an MRI if you have an issue with your musculoskeletal system that requires a more detailed look at how your bones, joints, organs, and soft tissues may have been affected. Here are some common types of issues that your doctor may want to investigate further with an MRI scan.
Issues with Bones and Joints
While X-rays are most commonly associated with taking pictures of your bones, they produce 2D images that are not always as detailed as your doctor might need. In some cases, an MRI can provide a better diagnosis than an X-ray might, like identifying a hairline fracture. Fractures, herniated discs, and arthritis in your joints are common issues with bones and joints that an MRI scan can help diagnose.
A fracture is the medical term for what is commonly referred to as a broken bone. Maybe you injured your ankle playing a sport or suffered other common injuries among athletes. No matter what the cause, an MRI can provide your doctor with a highly detailed image of the bone that may have broken and also the surrounding muscles, organs, and other tissues.
If you’ve been in a car accident and suffered from whiplash, an MRI scan might be recommended to assess whether you also have a herniated disc in your neck or back. Spinal discs separate the vertebrae in your spine and can become jostled out of place during a car accident. An MRI scan would be able to show every aspect of how the disc may be putting pressure on nearby soft tissues or nerves.
Your doctor may want to use MRI scans to monitor the progression of certain illnesses and degenerative diseases like arthritis. This can also help your doctor to visualize how your body may be responding to treatment. Images from an MRI can help show any problems within the joint, like inflammation or issues with cartilage.
Issues with Soft Tissues
MRI scans are able to show 3D images and also how the soft tissues in your body may be affected by an injury or illness. Soft tissues include muscles, tendons, ligaments, and nerves. The heart is actually a muscle, so an MRI scan can also provide your doctor with images of your heart and blood vessels.
Sprains and Strains
Your doctor may use an MRI scan to get a closer look at a sprain or strain and how it may be affecting nearby structures and determine what is causing you pain. Sprains are injuries to tissue that connect two bones, while strains are injuries to tissue that connects muscle and bone. An MRI will be able to show exactly where a strain or sprain has occurred and whether it is partial or complete.
An MRI scan may also be recommended to get clarity on any suspected abnormality, like abnormal tissues or a previous scan that requires more investigation. MRI scans can detect abnormalities like tumors, blood vessel injuries, nerve damage from multiple sclerosis, and more.
What to Expect with an MRI
At AICA Orthopedics in College Park, our team of orthopedic doctors, chiropractors, neurologists, radiologists, and physical therapists have access to state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging tools like MRI scans in-house. That means you can meet with your doctor and get the scans you need all in one convenient location. Meet with one of our multi-specialty doctors if you are suffering from pain due to an injury or illness. Our doctors will recommend the most appropriate diagnostic imaging tools for your issue and develop an individualized treatment plan that addresses all your needs so you can experience healing.