When most people experience back pain, it's usually due to an injury, inflammation, or medical condition. But if you don't know why your back hurts, you and your doctor may have a hard time finding the right treatments for it. MRI imaging can diagnose or detect the reason for your back pain. Here's how MRI imaging works and what you need to do to qualify for your scan.
Why Do You Need an MRI?
MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, is a unique diagnostic tool that uses electromagnetic fields and radio frequency signals to see inside the body. The imaging technique allows doctors to detect conditions they can't find with a physical exam alone. In many cases, the sources of a person's pain can lie deep within the body's tissues, including the muscles and bones supporting the spine.
The bones of the spine (vertebrae) connect together with joints. Between each joint lies a soft pad of fluid called discs. If a spinal bone collapses, deteriorates, or fractures, it can crush or compress the discs between them. As a result, excruciating pain can travel up and down the spinal column.
If the soft tissues covering your spinal column become inflamed or injured, they can cause pain in the back. The damage may occur from trauma, such as muscle tears and strains, or it may develop from disease or aging. The injured or compromised tissue can swell and place stress on your spinal bones.
Now that you know why you need an MRI, it's time to see if you qualify for one.
Do You Qualify for an MRI?
The magnetic fields and radio frequency signals given off by the MRI equipment can interfere with the signals of pacemakers and other electronic implants. If you wear a pacemaker or another device, tell a specialist immediately. The specialist can use an alternative test to examine your back, such as X-rays or CT scans. If you don't have any obstacles to overcome, you can go ahead and prepare for your scan.
Most doctors or specialists who perform MRI scans of the back require you to wear light or loose-fitting clothing. Some doctors ask patients to wear gowns. Your back needs to be exposed and free to complete the scan.
You'll also need to lie down for the scan. If your back pain becomes worse when you lie flat, tell a doctor right away so that they can make adjustments for you. Some doctors use sedatives and other medications to make their patients feel more comfortable.
For more information about MRI scanning and your back pain, contact a doctor or specialist like those at Kenai Peninsula Imaging Center, LLC today.