An x-ray determines the alignment and condition of your bones. Examples of things x-rays can display are deformities of the spine, fractures, bone spurs, tumors, spaces between the discs of the spine, and infections.
MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. MRI’s will determine the condition of your muscles/ligaments and the discs in your spine. Your doctor may not order an MRI initially. Typically no matter what is displayed on the MRI, a physician would recommend physical therapy as the first form of conservative treatment. An MRI will help the doctor determine if surgery is required for your injury.