When should you get an MRI?

September 10th, 2018 Posted by Blog 0 thoughts on “When should you get an MRI?”

“Do you think I need an MRI?”

I hear this quite often. Often times patients in pain wonder when or if they need to get an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).

From an orthopedic (muscle, bone, tendon) standpoint, it is not needed as often as you may think. Most aches and pain in your joints can be determined with a good exam, assessing how you function/move, and x-rays to rule out any serious conditions.

In fact, research is indicating more and more that MRIs lead us to overdiagnose conditions.

Take back pain for example. An MRI should not be a routinely ordered test, it should only be used if severe dysfunction is noted. In addition, MRIs should be used if a patient is a candidate for surgery and/or spinal injection based on strong research and recommendations.

Often times in major research reviews we see phrases such as this:

“The rate of false-positive imaging is substantial. Anatomic abnormalities have demonstrated a poor correlation with patient symptoms and may lead to increased surgical rates without improved outcomes.” source

The next logical question is, “but how can you know what is wrong without seeing an image?”

The truth is, if your bony structure and other serious issues are taken off the table by a thorough examination, we can usually isolate the pain via stressing the structures not so easily seen by an x-ray.

This is not to say that MRIs are not useful; they just have their indications and appropriate use. With greater bodies of research reporting that a small snapshot can show us (at great detail) anatomical variations that are completely normal and without related symptoms.

If we can pinpoint a movement or an activity that you do that can bring on your pain, it is more likely we can design a program that can rehabilitate it. Think: If there is a way we can provoke and irritate the pain, we can most likely find the solution to the pain.

At RISE Rehabilitation and Fitness, your physical therapy evaluation will work to find any tightness, weakness, or troublesome tissue in order to get you to return to pain-free activity. We use a wide array of therapeutic strategies to eliminate your pain such as manual therapy, instrument-assisted soft tissue massage, cupping, dry needling, therapeutic taping, joint mobilizations, as well as other techniques to get your pain down and your function improving.

Physical therapy prior to an MRI can help many individuals limit medication, avoid expensive procedures (such as an MRI) and avoid surgery. If you have pain and want to seek out treatment prior to more invasive procedures and live in or around Bergen County, NJ, please contact us at RISE Rehabilitation and Fitness.


Follow us on Instagram and Twitter @RiseRehabFit and on Facebook. For those in Northern New Jersey, Bergen County area, visit our website at RiseRehabFit.com to come in for a tour and consultation.


The above is not a substitute for medical advice and does not take place for seeking a healthcare provider.

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