The proper diagnosis of a pinched nerve may not necessarily require an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging.) However, this is the most precise and comprehensive diagnostic test available. If your physician plans on prescribing targeted pain management treatments, such as epidural steroid injections, transdermal analgesics pain patches or ultrasound therapy, an MRI is necessary to determine the exact location of the compressed nerve.
What to expect during an MRI
Diagnosing a pinched nerve with an MRI involves a high-density magnetic field that provides a detailed image of your body’s soft tissues. These tissues will be illuminated, which allows physicians to detect spinal abnormalities, like a herniated disc, a bulging disc, spinal stenosis or spondylolisthesis. MRI machinery can be intimidating, but knowing what to expect during the procedure will help you relax and get the clearest possible scan.
- When you enter the imaging room, you will wear a hospital gown and lie flat on a table. The MRI technician will give you earplugs because the machine can be loud, though you should be able to hear the tech speaking to you through a microphone from the viewing room.
- A photographic head coil will be placed around your head for the exam. Then, the table will enter the MRI machine, which is cylindrical and contains an enormous magnet.
- You should stay extremely still. Energy in the form of radio waves will be spread over your body so that the MRI scanner can identify the tissues of your body and create a 2-D or 3-D representation. This can take 30-90 minutes.
- People with pacemakers, metal implants and other internal medical devices should not undergo an MRI unless these devices are declared MRI-safe.
Initial pinched nerve treatment options
The majority of people who experience signs of a pinched nerve will be able to manage their symptoms with conservative treatments like physical therapy, pain medication and rest. However, if weeks or months of these treatment methods do not help you to achieve lasting pain relief, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our medical experts can tell you more about minimally invasive procedures that may be able to help you find relief from neck and back pain.