Suffering from a traumatic injury or an orthopedic condition like joint pain often leaves question marks until your doctor can perform an imaging test to make an accurate diagnosis. That’s because many bone and joint conditions have more than meets the eye and can be difficult to diagnose without looking at what is happening beneath the skin. X-rays provide a detailed look at the bones, while MRI scans are more useful to visualize soft tissue injuries. These are just 2 examples of imaging studies that can answer questions about the nature of your injury, and your doctor will use the information found on these tests to guide treatment.
Types of Imaging Studies
Musculoskeletal imaging is crucial to determine a diagnosis and treatment plan. Various noninvasive diagnostic imaging tests have separate functions and help your orthopedist learn more about your injury or condition. Depending on the nature of your injury, your doctor may order more than one imaging test to examine a bone or joint for an accurate diagnosis that will guide your treatment.
Two of the most commonly used imaging tests include:
- X-Ray: Also called radiographs, X-rays are noninvasive medical tests. While traditional X-rays produced images by exposing the body to a small dose of radiation, digital radiography (X-rays) expose the patient to much less radiation while eliminating the need to develop films. This, in turn, reduces patient wait times. Although X-rays are excellent for viewing the bones, they do not show the soft tissues.
- Digital MRI: Short for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These imaging tests do not use radiation. Instead, they produce images through a high-powered magnet, radio waves, and computers to generate detailed images of your body’s internal structures. MRIs are used to visualize the soft tissues, including the ligaments, tendons, cartilage, nerve, muscles, and more. MRI scans are frequently used to identify an injury, soft tissue damage, and to diagnose conditions such as osteoarthritis.
- Bone scans/densitometry: This quick, painless test measures bone density to diagnose osteoporosis and assess your risk of sustaining a future fracture. It can also examine the spine to check for vertebral fractures, which is often the case for older patients who have lost an inch or more of height and suffer from unexplained back pain.
- Electromyography: Signs or symptoms of nerve disorders like tingling, numbness, weakness, or muscle pain could be caused by a herniated disc or a disease that damages the nerve and/or muscles. This test assesses muscle health by measuring their electrical activity. It is similar to nerve conduction studies that help locate damage in the peripheral nervous system.
Contact Orthopedic Specialists of Southwest Florida
At Orthopedic Specialists of Southwest Florida, we know you need a quick, accurate diagnosis of your orthopedic injury. We offer groundbreaking digital imaging studies that can pinpoint the nature of your injury for a quick diagnosis. Our practice has onsite diagnostic imaging studies so you can receive a reliable diagnosis as soon as possible and start your treatment plan.
To contact Orthopedic Specialists of Southwest Florida, please call (239) 215-2008 today to make an appointment.