An MRI Scan For Orthopedic Conditions: All Abouts!

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An MRI Scan For Orthopedic Conditions: All Abouts!

No wonder orthopedic injuries have become more frequent with the growing popularity and participation in sports activities, gymnastics, and weight-lifting exercises. Of course, the minor injury, bleeding, or bruises you get are likely to heal on their own!

But when the injury is internal, you need proper medical attention. By this, I mean; proper diagnosis and treatment! And what else can serve aptly in the spectrum of musculoskeletal diagnosis, if not the safe and accurate MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging study?

Yes. An MRI scan for orthopedic conditions is one of the most commonly used diagnostic modalities; today! Let’s discover why!

Note on What Is An MRI Scan and How It Works?

MRIs are imaging studies where powerful magnets and computer-generated radio waves work hand-in-hand to create the visuals of your internal musculoskeletal anatomy, thereby helping locate a wide range of orthopedic conditions.

The scan does not involve any kind of invasion or wear and tear in your body. Nor does it involve harmful ionizing radiation like an X-ray or CT (Computed tomography)! It means there’s no chance of further health complications from this scan, whether you are under 18, pregnant, breastfeeding, old, or have a preexisting kidney or heart disease.

Radiology centers conduct this test under the supervision of qualified and professional radiologists.

During the scan, you enter the test room where the giant MRI machine rests. Here, you shall see an attached moveable bed or table. This table goes inside the semi-circular tube-like scanner after you lie down on it.

While you go inside, the enclosed space and the loud crackling noise from the machine may make you feel claustrophobic and anxious.

So, the healthcare providers offer eye masks, ear cuffs, blankets, and even sedatives, if necessary, to ease you down during the test. However, for the latter, you would require your doctor’s recommendation.

On the initiation of the scan, the magnets attached to the machine walls start triggering your body’s protons to move out of their place. In the meantime, the computer-generated radio waves await to trace their movement and send signals to the computer, subsequently mapping the internal visuals on the screen.

If the images lack clarity, your radiologist may administer contrast material to fetch clearer and more precise imaging to assess your orthopedic condition.

They typically inject the dye into your veins, which by mixing with your bloodstream, tend to highlight the soft tissues prominently. Once accurate images lay derived, maybe after 45 minutes or a bit more, you can return to your daily routine.

When Do Doctors Order An MRI Scan For Orthopedic Conditions?

Doctors order an MRI scan for orthopedic conditions when –

  • You have severe muscle pain; a pain that does not leave you even when you rest,
  • Feeling numbness near your joints or muscles,
  • Experiencing muscle stiffness for a long, and that keeps you away from your regular exercises,
  • You witness a swelling near your joints of the hands, legs, arms, shoulders, hip, wrist, elbow, etc.,
  • Your motions or movements get restricted,
  • You undergo a weakness in your bones or muscles, and so forth!

What Orthopedic Conditions Can An MRI Scan Show?


An MRI scan can help detect various orthopedic conditions. They are as follows.

  • Carpel Tunnel syndrome, or compression of the median nerve running through the narrow passageway (carpel tunnel) in your hand and arms,
  • Bone fractures,
  • Injury to your cartilage,
  • Meniscus injury,
  • Ligament tears or disruption,
  • Muscle strain or damage,
  • Progression of conditions like arthritis, i.e., swelling or inflammation in your joints,
  • Spinal cord injury,
  • Spinal stenosis, where the space inside your backbone becomes smaller,
  • Herniated disc,
  • Bicep tendon tear,
  • Bunions or sprain in your foot or ankles,
  • Golfer’s elbow, or inflammation of the tendon connecting the bones of your elbow to the forearm muscles,
  • Bursitis, where the fluid-filled pads protecting your joints get inflamed,
  • Pinched nerves,
  • Shoulder dislocation,
  • Fluid accumulation in your knees called the baker’s cyst,
  • Tumors in the musculoskeletal system, be they benign or cancerous,
  • Rotator cuff tear, i.e., the tear in your tissues connecting the muscle to the bone around your shoulder joints, and more!

How Accurate Is An MRI Scan For Diagnosing Orthopedic Conditions?

When it comes to orthopedic conditions, an MRI scan is certainly one of the best! Its efficacy is way high; in terms of soft-tissue contrast and is highly accurate in diagnosing many conditions that an ultrasound, CT, x-ray, or other cannot!

An MRI scan for orthopedic conditions is about –

  • 93% sensitive and 89% specific in detecting medial meniscus tears,
  • 78.1% to 98.4% accurate in determining the precise location of a medial meniscus tear,
  • 79% sensitive and 95% specific in diagnosing lateral meniscus tears,
  • 90.7% sensitive in diagnosing anterior cruciate ligament tears,
  • 90.4% sensitive in detecting posterior cruciate ligament tears,
  • 93% sensitive and 63% specific in locating rheumatoid arthritis affecting the joints of your hands and feet,
  • 89% accuracy in detecting musculoskeletal tumors,
  • 76% to 96% accurate in determining disc herniations at surgery,
  • 92% specific in identifying bursitis,
  • 100% sensitive and 82.8% specific for screening bicep tendon tears; and, thereafter!

When Do Doctors Not Recommend An MRI Scan for Orthopedic Conditions?

Doctors typically do not order an MRI and instead opt for another diagnostic modality, like CT or ultrasound, when you have a preexisting metal implant in your body, such as –

  • Metallic Aneurysm Clips,
  • Pacemaker,
  • Cardioverter Defibrillator,
  • Metallic Dental Filings,
  • Metallic Plates in Your Joints,
  • Cochlear Ear Implant, etc.

It is because these metallic elements in the presence of the magnets involved in the scan. These are likely to tamper with the results by sending false signals and may even cause you an internal or external injury.

Besides, your doctor may have to inevitably prescribe another test and not an MRI because of –

  • Its high expense, and
  • Inaccessibility to definite geographical locations.

Summing Up:

So, do you now make an idea about what an MRI is, how it occurs, what it shows, when your doctors recommend it, when they don’t, and how accurate it is? I believe you do!

The scan procedure and preparation are perhaps simple, and you can avail of it amidst your tight work schedule. Remember that delay in diagnosis and treatment can always lead to further health deterioration!

For an MRI scan in Chandigarh, now, see here –

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About author
Hi, I am Alka Tiwari, Founder & Patient Care Executive at Helping you get the diagnostics scans services like MRI, CT Scan, UltraSound & PET Scan, etc at the best price. At MRIChandigarh's blog, I will be writing to create awareness and to educate you about how and where to get diagnostic scans done in Chandigarh at the best price with best-in-class services.
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