Commonly Asked Questions About Having An MRI Scan For Neck Pain

Commonly Asked Questions About Having An MRI Scan For Neck Pain


An MRI scan is often used for diagnostic purposes for people who are experiencing neck pain. Sometimes patients are slightly nervous about this procedure, which is understandable, given that they are in pain and are concerned about being in a rather confined area during the procedure.


The following are the most commonly asked questions relating to the use of an MRI scan to diagnose the cause of neck pain.


Is the MRI scan required because the condition is thought to be very serious?


Not necessarily! You may be referred to have an MRI scan simply because the MRI scan will be able to show up all the tissues, bones and muscles in the neck. An MRI scan can also show cartilage as well as fatty tissue. Their use is also recommended where there may be soft tissue that is surrounded by bones. This makes the MRI scan a much more accurate diagnostic tool than an X-Ray.


In addition the MRI scan is able to provide your pain consultant with a very detailed picture of the area that has been scanned, which even CT scans cannot produce.


So being referred for an MRI scan for neck pain does not automatically mean that there is anything potentially seriously wrong.


Will the MRI scan hurt?


The MRI scan itself is not painful at all. However you should bear in mind that you will be required to stay as still as possible for anything between half an hour and an hour. This can be slightly uncomfortable for anyone but even more so if you are in pain, but the pain is not caused by the MRI scan itself.



Is the MRI scan harmful?


There is a common misconception that having an MRI scan is similar to having an X-Ray, but in fact the scan is a radiology procedure that does not expose the patient to radiation in the same way that an X- Ray will. Currently there are no known side effects or potential side effects to having an MRI scan.


What happens if I get claustrophobic? 


If you are concerned about becoming claustrophobic then you should tell the radiographer. He or she will be in the adjacent room throughout the scan, but you have a button that you can press if you need help. Talking through any fears about having claustrophobia can help allay the fears and most patients find that having the button as a ‘safety net’ ensures that they are able to cope with the scan without feeling too claustrophobic.


If you have experienced claustrophobia before or you are very concerned about this, it may be possible to have a very mild sedative administered prior to the scan, simply to help you relax for its duration.


The most important aspect of an MRI scan is that it is extremely effective at diagnosing the cause of neck pain, so there really is no reason to worry about it. It is a safe, efficient and harmless procedure, that can pinpoint problems very accurately, facilitating a speedy diagnosis and set patients on the road to a full recovery!



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