A Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan should never be the sole tool used for diagnosing pain. While it can be a useful tool to examine what may be occurring to muscles around the spinal column, past studies have shown that it gives many surgeons false ideas on what may be causing pain. As people get older, their spine naturally starts wearing down through daily use. The deterioration is recorded by the MRI scan, but pain doctors who use MRI and nothing else to diagnose the source of pain can be misled by the results. MRI scans can still be applicable when done parallel with other diagnostic methods. Doctors can also use the machines to help prepare a plan before surgery.
What is an MRI?
MRI machines first came into use in the 1980s. The scan is now a common procedure in which a strong magnetic field surrounds a patient’s body, creating images of the interior organs and tissues. This process is a useful alternative to X-Ray imaging as it does not involve any radiation. For chronic pain, an MRI may be helpful in providing details about spinal disc conditions which are often the cause of most lower back pain cases.
How is an MRI Scan Useful?
For most people, an MRI scan is better done later in the diagnostic process. When a doctor already knows what to look for in an MRI, he is not distracted by other, minor abnormalities that are completely natural and have nothing to do with chronic pain. MRI scans can help rule out any tumors or spinal infections that may not be simple to detect through other methods. Newer MRI scanners are designed specifically for patients with chronic back pain in mind, as the process usually involves lying still in a small space between 45 to 60 minutes.
Should You Get an MRI Scan?
While MRI scans are safer alternatives to radiation-based analysis, there are still some factors to consider. Primarily, patients who have pacemakers or other metallic parts in their body should not take MRI. Since the process involves surrounding a person with a magnetic field, the magnet waves may end up dislodging the metal. Patients who have past experience with claustrophobia are also not recommended to get an MRI scan, as the test may take 30 to 60 minutes to complete. If you are experiencing chronic back pain in New Jersey and want to start figuring out how to alleviate the discomfort, contact the experts at Garden State Pain Center.