Skip to content

    Osteoarthritis Health Center

    Select An Article

    Using MRI to Diagnose Arthritis

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    In diagnosing arthritis, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan can be helpful. An MRI scan is a test that produces very clear pictures of the human body without the use of X-rays. MRI uses a large magnet, radio waves, and a computer to produce these images.

    Recommended Related to Osteoarthritis

    WebMD's 10 Important Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Osteoarthritis

    Since you’ve recently been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, ask your doctor these questions at your next visit. 1. What caused my arthritis? 2. What drugs can I take if I frequently have stomach problems with pain relievers? 3. Would prescription medication be appropriate for my osteoarthritis? 4. What are some appropriate exercises for me to try? 5. Will stretching and flexing the joint help it feel better? 6. Why does the weather affect my symptoms? 7. Does physical activity help osteoarthritis...

    Read the WebMD's 10 Important Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Osteoarthritis article > >

    Why Should I Get an MRI for Arthritis?

    • To detect arthritis. MRI can be helpful in evaluating joint damage, particularly damage to the spine, knee, or shoulder.
    • To track the progress of disease. In repeat scans, MRI can determine how fast the arthritis is progressing.

    Is the MRI Exam Safe?

    Yes. The MRI exam poses no risk to the average person if appropriate safety guidelines are followed. People who have had heart surgery and people with the following medical devices can be safely examined with MRI:

    • Surgical clips or sutures
    • Artificial joints
    • Staples
    • Cardiac valve replacements (except the Starr-Edwards metallic ball/cage)
    • Disconnected medication pumps
    • Vena cava filters
    • Brain shunt tubes for hydrocephalus

    Some conditions may make an MRI exam inadvisable. Tell your doctor if you have any of the following conditions:

    How Long Does the MRI Exam Take?

    Allow two hours for your MRI exam. In most cases, the procedure takes 40 to 80 minutes and produces multiple images.

    What Happens Before the MRI Exam?

    Personal items such as your watch, wallet (including any credit cards with magnetic strips that can be erased by the magnet), and jewelry should be left at home if possible or removed prior to the MRI scan. Secured lockers are available to store personal possessions.

    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    elderly hands
    Even with arthritis pain.
    woman exercising
    Here are 7 easy tips.
     
    acupuncture needles in woman's back
    How it helps arthritis, migraines, and dental pain.
    chronic pain
    Get personalized tips to reduce discomfort.
     
    Keep Joints Healthy
    SLIDESHOW
    Chronic Pain Healthcheck
    HEALTH CHECK
     
    close up of man with gut
    Article
    man knee support
    Article
     
    woman with cold compress
    QUIZ
    Man doing tai chi
    Article
     
    hand gripping green rubber ball
    Slideshow
    person walking with assistance
    Slideshow