As one of the most common medical complaints in the United States, muscle and joint pain can seriously impact quality of life. Classified as musculoskeletal pain, this type of discomfort can affect any of the bones, joints, tendons, muscles or ligaments throughout your body. It’s often difficult to diagnose with great accuracy since there can be multiple sources of pain, which is why image testing is often recommended.
Finding Structural Issues
If a sprain or fracture may be the source of your pain, an X-ray is usually recommended to determine if joints or bones in the affected area are damaged. Structural problems of the spine, for instance, that can be observed on an X-ray include misalignment issues with joints or individual vertebra and abnormal curvatures of the spine itself. The same is true with structural issues affecting knees, shoulders, wrists, and other bendable joints.
Assessing Soft Tissue Damage
X-rays can’t produce detailed images of soft tissues. When some type of soft tissue damage may be causing your muscle or joint pain, your doctor will likely recommend a CT scan or MRI. These tests can produce more detailed images of tissues at varying densities to determine if there may be inflammation or tissue damage contributing to your persistent discomfort.
Ruling Out Other Conditions
Affected more Americans than cancer and diabetes combined, musculoskeletal pain can have multiple possible causes. Another reason why your doctor may order a medical imaging test is to rule out some of these possible causes. The precision of an MRI scan, in particular, can show which tissues are affected and whether or not nerves are being compressed.
Checking On Healing
After you’ve received a diagnosis and an accompanying treatment recommendation, your doctor will likely want to check on how you’re healing. For progressive conditions like arthritis, medical imaging can determine how it’s advancing to determine if treatment adjustments may be necessary to control the pain. Imaging can also show if you’re healing after corrective surgery.
Imaging centers in NJ often provide an assortment of images tests, including X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs, in a comfortable, safe environment. When visiting your local center, bring any information you have from your doctor about your condition. This can help technicians have a better understanding of what to look for and where to concentrate efforts when performing any of the tests your doctor has ordered for you.