When do I need an MRI?

If you are experiencing an ache or pain that is persistent, you want to see a medical professional to determine your treatment plan. In the state of Maryland, you can see a physical therapist without seeing a physician first. If you choose to do this, a physical therapist will perform an evaluation to determine your plan of care. If a physical therapist feels seeing a physician is necessary based on your evaluation, it will be recommended. This is the same for an MRI. If you see a physical therapist first, we are unable to prescribe imaging but we will recommend you see a physician to ultimately get imaging. Most people go through a round of conservative treatment, such as physical therapy prior to receiving an MRI. An MRI is recommended when physical therapy is not improving symptoms or you are hitting a plateau with improvement. Most insurance companies will not approve paying for an MRI without the patient having physical therapy first. If you are unsure of what you need to do for the next step in your treatment plan, make sure to make an appointment with a physician or physical therapists to help guide you.

X-ray vs. MRI

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.