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The Ultimate Back Pain Relief Tips Blog

Why Should You Have An MRI for Back Pain?

Posted by Dr. Jeff Winternheimer D.C. on Wed, Mar 26, 2014 @ 04:23 PM

mri pictures of bulging discIt is estimated that every adult will undergo some back pain at a point in his or her life. Some back pains are related to lifestyle activities. These pains are usually not severe and dissipate with time. However, this fact should not make you undermine the seriousness of back pain, particularly if it is persistence. If your back pain does not ease with time or worsens, leading to numbness and tingly feeling radiating to your legs or arms, you should consult your doctor. One of the surest ways your doctor will identify the underlying cause of your back pain is through an MRI scan.

What is an MRI?

MRI is an abbreviation for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. This scan produces detailed 3D imaging of your body. The scan uses magnets to excite the hydrogen atoms in the body. When the hydrogen atoms recover back to their normal levels, they emit some energy. An MRI scanner picks on these energy signatures to render a detailed picture of the body, which is then displayed and captured by a computer. The procedure is safe, as it does not involve any form of radiation.

Before and after mri cta

Why MRI for Back Pain?

Most severe back pains are as a result of an abnormality on the cervical spine. For your doctor to devise the best treatment plan, he needs an accurate diagnosis of your condition. An MRI scan provides detailed imaging that can help with the diagnosis. It is also the best imaging technique that can identify abnormalities of the spinal cord, small discs, nerves and tissues.

An MRI scan is effective in detecting infection and disc flattening, tumors and infections in bones, fractures, bulges, fluid collection in tissues, blockage of the spinal canal, and tumor in tissues and muscle surrounding the cervical spine. All these are possible causes of immense back pain. With an MRI scan, your doctor can isolate the underlying cause of your pain.

There is a misconception that MRI scan results are overly detailed and show abnormalities that may not be related to the issue at hand, leading to a misdiagnosis. It is true that an MRI scan is very detailed and will capture some conditions that had not been previously caught. However, this is a good thing as it is possible to detect underlying conditions before they blow up. Based on other symptoms, your doctor will have an idea on the cause of your back problem. An MRI will confirm or negate his assessment. This means the diagnosis of your problem is enhanced.

Preparing for an MRI

You do not need to make any special preparations for an MRI for back pain. There is no restriction on food or any other changes required to your lifestyle prior to the scan. You can practically have an MRI as you are. The only restriction during the test is that you should not have any metallic object on you or your clothing. Usually, you will be provided with a gown for the test.

A normal MRI scan takes between 30 to 60 minutes and the technician will guide you on the appropriate postures. The results will be provided soon afterwards and the technician can help you understand what they mean. However, it is best if you take the results to your doctor to devise the next cause of action.

Back pains can be discomforting. Some are so acute that they affect your ability to carry out your routine duties. Such back pains need proper medical attention to determine their causes. Only by isolating the underlying cause of your back pain can your doctor devise a proper and effective treatment. At the Illinois Back Institute we work with surrounding MRI companies to get help pinpoint what is causing your back pain. 

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Topics: back pain relief, spine health, back, Back Pain, back doctor, mri pinched l5 nerve, herniated disc mri image, mri picture of bulging disc, before & after mri's