With fall school sports back into swing, it’s helpful to know when MRI exams are needed for athletic injuries. Sports injuries can range from aches & pains to incredibly serious injuries, and knowing why your doctor orders a specific imaging exam is always helpful.
As part of our “We’re Sports Nuts” series this month, let’s look at how magnetic resonance exams work and when they are used.
An MRI uses an enormous magnet and radio waves to produce detailed pictures of the inside of the body – without exposing your child to radiation. Both the ability to derive a clear image and avoid radiation exposure means this exam has many uses. However, as always, your doctor will determine which imaging exam your child needs based upon nature of any injury.
For athletes, an MRI exam usually comes into play when injuries are more severe. For example, a medial meniscus tear (aka “torn meniscus”) is when direct impact or twisting damages the circular cartilage in the knee joint causing pain. Minor tears are treated with PRICE: protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation. However, severe cases may call for surgery and that is how MRI can help your physician determine the best course of action.
A related injury is an ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) tear. A torn ACL has affected many a professional football player, so this injury is nothing to be taken lightly.
A glenoid labrum tear occurs when the ring of tissue in the shoulder blade is torn or damaged. It often arises from repetitive throwing motions common to some sports. This is a soft tissue injury applicable to an MRI exam if your doctor determines the need for one.
MRI exams are also useful for other injury diagnosis including tendon and ligament disruption, plantar fasctis and Achilles tendon tears, and some bone injuries not readily seen by x-ray or when MSK or ultrasound images are unclear.
If your doctor orders an MRI for a sports injury, choose RMI and call 810-732-1919. Want to learn more? Read about MRIs and how to prepare for the exam.