Using an MRI to Diagnose Arthritis

March 23, 2017 – 3 min read

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For people suffering from arthritis, doctors’ office visits and tests can be frustrating; after all, you just want relief. However, it is important for your doctor to have all of the information he or she needs in order to make an informed decision. One of the tools regularly used to diagnose the source of pain is an arthritis MRI.

What does an Arthritis MRI Show?

A Magnetic Resonance Imaging scan, or MRI, provides your doctor with clear pictures of the area scanned. For example, if you have been experiencing knee pain, your doctor may order a knee MRI in order to see the tendons, ligaments, joints, bone and tissue inside your knee.

If arthritis is the culprit, the MRI can show joint damage. If you previously had one or more MRI scans on the same body part, a repeat MRI can be helpful because it can help your doctor see how quickly the arthritis is progressing.

What to Know Before Your MRI Scan

If you have never had an arthritis MRI before, it is natural to be a little nervous. MRIs are safe, non-surgical procedures. Rest easy knowing that patients should not experience any pain during the procedure.

Before your procedure, you’ll need to remove any jewelry and body piercings. If you have implanted medical devices such as staples, surgical clips, brain shunts, disconnected medication pumps or artificial joints, be sure to tell the technician, although MRI is generally considered safe and effective for patients with those types of devices. If you have a device that isn’t listed here, the MRI may not be advisable, so be sure to discuss the specifics with your doctor.

During and After the MRI

You will be asked to lie down on a flat table that will move in and out of the MRI machine, which has a donut-shaped opening. The technician will be in the next room, but will be able to see, hear and communicate with you. You may hear a series of clicks or thumping noises, but should not experience any pain. You will have to remain as still as possible for the duration of the MRI, so you may experience some stiffness or mild discomfort because of that.

Plan to be at your appointment for up to two hours, although the MRI scan itself will probably take between 40-75 minutes. If your doctor has requested an MRI using contrast dye, that will be administered before the scan itself. If you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye, be sure to tell your doctor ahead of time.

When the technician has captured enough images to help your doctor diagnose the cause of your pain and the extent of your arthritis, those pictures will be sent to your doctor who will review them and discuss treatment and next steps with you.

Schedule Your Arthritis MRI with AHI

At American Health Imaging, we offer the same high-quality MRI scans you could get through a hospital, performed by highly-trained technicians, but at a much lower cost than you would otherwise pay.

With locations across Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Texas, we’re sure to have a location near you. Contact us today to find your nearest AHI center and to schedule your MRI.

MRI Procedure