Back pain is the most common health-related complaint in the United States. It’s also a problem that can be difficult to diagnose because of the many issues that could be contributing to it. If initial diagnostic attempts involving a physical exam and X-rays aren’t clearly showing the source of the problem, a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan may be recommended. For patients with claustrophobia issues, an open MRI can provide the necessary answers needed to make a positive diagnosis in a way that increases comfort.
What Types of Spine Problems May Be Evaluated?
An open MRI can be used to confirm or detect many spine-related problems that may affect the bones of the spine, spinal joints, supporting spinal discs, soft tissues near the backbone, and nerves of the spine. Specifically, an MRI may be ordered to evaluate patients with:
- Herniated or slipped discs
- Spinal stenosis
- Bone spurs
- Spinal tumors
- Non-specific low back pain
What Are Doctors Looking For?
MRI scans show the anatomy of the spine in greater detail then what’s possible with an X-ray. Doctors treating patients with spine-related problems may look at overall spinal alignment, the appearance of the spinal cord, disc height, the appearance of intervertebral discs, and spinal canal size.
Results can also show if nerves near the spine are inflamed or being compressed. Doctors sometimes look for abnormalities near the spine that may be contributing to symptoms. When an MRI is done post-surgery, doctors may check to see if other parts of the spine need attention.
What Can Be Expected with an Open MRI?
An Open MRI has a more accessible design than a traditional MRI. This can make it easier for patients with back pain to get into the position necessary to complete the scan. It’s important to lie still as the test is being done. However, the process is completely painless and there is no radiation exposure. An open design also allows patients to have a family member or friend there for emotional support.
If you are among the 30 million or so Americans with chronic back pain or you’ve recently suffered a spine-related injury, an open MRI in Toms River can help doctors and spine specialists determine appropriate treatments. Images are available immediately and followed up with a written report. Additional MRIs may be done to determine if treatment efforts are effective or to track the progress of certain spine-related conditions.