What is an MRI Scan & What Can it Show?

MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is a “test that uses powerful magnets, radio waves, & a computer, to make detailed pictures of the inside of your body. This can be used to give you a diagnosis, or to see how well you’ve responded to treatment. Unlike X-rays & CT (computed tomography) scans, MRIs don’t use damaging ionizing radiation X-rays. An MRI helps a Pain Specialist diagnose a disease or injury. It can be done on different parts of the body, & is especially useful for looking at soft tissues & the nervous system” [1]

What Does an MRI of the Joints & Bones Look For?

Among other things, it is used to detect:

•Infection in the bone
•Joint damage
•Spinal disk issues
•Lower back or neck pain with nerve signs

How it Works

The way a Magnetic Resonance Imaging scan operates, it not difficult to understand. – Our bodies comprise a plethora of water molecules (consisting of oxygen and hydrogen atoms), and in the middle of every hydrogen atom, there is an even smaller element, named a proton. The latter act like miniscule magnets which are highly sensitive to the scan’s magnetic fields. To that end, whenever a patient lays underneath the scanning machine, their body’s protons line up in the same direction, just as a magnet pulls a compass needle. The protons are then thrown out of alignment when short radio waves bursts are transmitted to particular regions of the body, and the protons don’t realign until the radio waves have been switched off. During this process, the transmitted radio signals are recorded. This will inform the Pain Specialist about the precise location of where the protons are in the patient’s body [2].

Furthermore, this process helps to: “distinguish between the various types of tissue in the body. This is because the protons in different types of tissue realign at different speeds and produce distinct signals. In the same way that millions of pixels on a computer screen can create complex pictures, the signals from the millions of protons in the body are combined to create a detailed image of the inside of the body” [2].

Consulting a Pain Specialist

You Pain Specialist will arrange for you to have an MRI scan as soon as possible. Once they receive the results, they will discuss them with you, in easy to understand, layman’s terms, and then devise a Personalised Treatment Protocol.


[1]. Pathak, N. (2021). “MRI: What You Need to Know.” WebMD.

[2]. NHS (2022). “Overview: MERI Scan).