X-Rays Versus MRI Scans in Sports and Exercise Injuries

Sports injuries are unfortunately common, and their treatment often begins with diagnostic imaging. But why do some doctors order an X-ray for your knee injury or your ankle sprain, while others order an MRI, and yet another might ask for both?

All imaging modalities have their strengths and weaknesses. Doctors weigh these against potential benefits when deciding what sort of diagnostic imaging procedure to choose for a given patient. Of course, every injury is different, and your doctor knows best. But, in general, here are the reasons doctors order X-rays, MRIs, or both in cases of sports injuries:

  1. X-rays are often an orthopedic surgeon’s first-line imaging choice for sports injuries.That’s because X-rays are comparatively simple and affordable for patients. (MRI scans from BestPriceMRI.com are remarkably affordable; but the cost is still not as low as an X-ray.) That seems strange to some patients. After all, X-rays are very good at displaying the bones, but not so clear for imaging soft tissues, where most sports injuries occur.But X-rays can often show secondary signs in the bones that point toward a particular type of injury, writes orthopedic surgeon Dr. David Geier on his website. He gives one example.

    “If there’s a small piece of bone pulled off the lateral tibial plateau (the top of the shin bone towards the outside of the knee,) that finding implies that the ACL is torn and very likely makes an MRI unnecessary,” Geier explains.

  2. The findings of the X-ray may lead to an MRI for some sports injuries.Orthopedic surgeons try a few tests before resorting to an MRI, writes Geier. He says that he begins with a physical examination; if that comes up empty, he orders the X-ray; if even the X-ray doesn’t show anything, that could lead to an MRI.MRI scans are particularly good at revealing soft tissues. If a sports physician suspects one of these injuries, such a torn ACL or meniscus, they might order an MRI to verify their findings.
  3. MRI scans might be the imaging procedure of choice for certain athletic knee injuries.The meniscus in the knee is a cartilage pad that helps to reduce friction between the bones of the leg. It also keeps the weight of the body from pressing the joint together. Sometimes, during exercise or exertion, the leg twists in such a way that it tears the meniscus.A sports physician will probably look for evidence of a torn meniscus before ordering an MRI to verify the findings. If the pain is easily traceable to the inside or outside of the knee, or if the knee locks up during movement, it might be time for an MRI, reports Geier.

Schedule Affordable MRI Scans and X-Rays for Sports Injuries with BestPriceMRI.com

Of course, the diagnostic process begins with a visit to your health care provider. They can asses your sports injury and come up with a care plan.

No matter what diagnostic imaging procedure your doctor recommends for your next sports injury, call BestPriceMRI.com at 888-322-7785 for a convenient appointment, excellent service, and an affordable cash price.