MRIs for Chronic Pain

MRIs for Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is the greatest source of disability globally and claims related to chronic pain feature in many insurance and medico-legal cases. Doctors and physicians use medical imaging (for example, MRIs, PET scans, and x-rays) to diagnose and help plan treatments for their patients, among other reasons. 

Patients with chronic pain can find MRIs to be helpful in treating and managing their symptoms. Depending on your symptoms, your general practitioner, primary care physician, or pain management specialist may recommend you receive an MRI. The scan may be specific to a certain body part if your pain is isolated, or for the head to check if your problem stems from potential neurological issues. 

How are MRIs used for pain management?

The development of the MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machine is regularly used in the treatment of chronic pain—specifically low back pain. Usually, an MRI scan is administered to confirm what physicians believe to be the reason for a patient’s pain. It can also be used for surgical planning such as a spinal fusion. An MRI scan can be a crucial part in planning chronic pain treatment, however, it is not always necessary. 

How are MRIs performed?

Head MRIs are commonly prescribed when diagnosing pain. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the head or head/brain MRI is a painless, non-invasive test that produces detailed images of your brain and brainstem. 

A MRI uses strong magnets to generate and measure signals from body tissues. The strength of the scanner’s magnet is measured in Tesla (T). Higher-strength magnets provide more detailed pictures. Most MRI scanners have magnets between 0.3 and 3T, with 1.5T being standard.

Some MRI exams use an injection of contrast material. You may be asked if you have asthma or allergies to iodine contrast material, drugs, food, or the environment. MRI exams commonly use a contrast material called gadolinium. Gadolinium can be used in patients with iodine contrast allergy. A patient is much less likely to be allergic to gadolinium contrast than to iodine contrast.

How to prepare for your MRI

If your doctor has prescribed an MRI, work with your pain specialist. Instructions for preparing for an MRI scan should be provided at least two days to a week prior to your appointment. You can find more information about getting an MRI scan here

MRIs are one of the safest and most commonly prescribed medical imaging procedures but for first-time patients or those with issues of anxiety or claustrophobia, they are less than comfortable. There are many helpful tips on how to make the MRI experience as stress free as possible.

To book a scan, visit us at Medmo helps people schedule radiology imaging tests – such as MRI, CT scans, PET, and more – at nearby accredited centers and identify the payment solution that works best for them.


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