Do I need an MRI? If movement causes pain, there might be something better…

Do you need an MRI? Most of the time the answer is No. Sometimes an MRI is recommended or required to determine the cause of injury or disease in the body. But when it comes to pain with movement, MRIs aren’t as useful as you might think for most musculoskeletal issues. 

Just because an MRI finds an abnormality doesn’t mean it’s a problem. Look how many abnormalities can be found in the average, pain-free person:

Photo credit: Lee Higginbotham

Special physical tests and measurements are usually more important to identify what structures could be causing issues. Why? Because if movement causes pain, then we need to move that body part to reproduce the symptoms. Lying perfectly still in an MRI tube means the painful part is resting too.

MRI Scanner

What if there was an easy way to combine imaging and movement? There is! It’s called Musculoskeletal Ultrasound. Using sound waves, we can see many muscles, joints,  and connective tissues in real-time and in-motion. 

Dave has Jumper’s Knee, aka Patellar Tendinitis.
Using ultrasound imaging, we can take a look at the tendon.

While physical tests work very well, seeing the painful structure can sometimes help us better target the problem. Physical therapists and other healthcare professionals use ultrasound imaging to improve treatment, getting you better, faster. 

If you have pain that occurs with moving around (and is not emergent), we recommend you see a physical therapist who specializes in working with people who do what you do. They can use special physical tests (and ultrasound imaging) to determine the cause of the problem.

Have more questions? Request a free call with us by clicking here. We would be happy to answer questions about your specific situation. No commitments required