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MRI: Tips for Reducing Stress

Reduce MRI Stress

Why Have an MRI?

When it comes to diagnosing and treating back pain, it is helpful for your doctor to see images of the inside of your spinal cord and back tissue to see if you have any spinal cord injuries that aren’t obviously apparent.

An MRI can help identify the following:

  • Tumors
  • Signs of a stroke
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Bone infections
  • Arthritis
  • Disc abnormalities

There are very few risks associated with an MRI, but be sure to tell your spinal doctor if you are pregnant or have any metal in your body, such as a pacemaker or cochlear implant.

What is an MRI Machine?

An MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, test is a procedure similar to an X-ray. However, unlike an X-ray, the MRI captures images of your tissues and organs instead of your bones. The machine uses radio waves inside a magnetic field to create faint signals that form cross-sectional images. MRI images look a bit like slices of bread.

Most MRI machines resemble big tubes into which you are rolled. If you’re at all claustrophobic, the experience can be excruciating. And while the test itself is painless, you have to lie perfectly still inside this big, magnetic tube while a clamoring of loud banging, thumping and pounding surround you. It can be enough to frighten anyone. Although like most things, its bark is worse than its bite.

When you’re inside the machine, you may find yourself in a stressful situation. It is possible for more thorough tests to last up to 60 minutes to complete. Below are a few MRI tips to endure the procedure and come out feeling fine.

Helpful Tips for an MRI

  • Wear earplugs to block the repetitive, loud sounds of the test.
  • Ask for a mild sedative, especially if you have a touch of claustrophobia.
  • Practice deep, meditative breathing techniques. Breathe in through your nose to a count of six and out on a count of 10.
  • Try aromatherapy. Studies show that lavender and vanilla are calming scents for most people. Put some essential oil on a scarf or pillowcase that can accompany you inside the machine.
  • Seek out a therapist with experience in treating claustrophobia and other fears. Perhaps a couple sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy can help tremendously.
  • Distract yourself by making mental lists. Think about your grocery list, or get lost in reciting a list of vegetables in alphabetical order.

Be sure to talk to your doctor about your concerns and fears. They may be able to help ease your fears or keep the test short.

Did You Know?

Did you know that Pacific Spine Specialists offers on site MRIs as well as complimentary MRI reviews? If you are experiencing back or spine pain, request an appointment with Pacific Spine Specialists today. Dr. Keenen is a highly trained and recommended spine surgeon whose focus on minimally invasive procedures will have you feeling like yourself in no time.