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X-Ray vs. MRI: What Structures Can Be Seen?

Imaging can be useful to help diagnose the problem. Yet, each imaging modality has different pros and cons, so it is important to know which one to get!


X-Rays are the fastest, cheapest, and often most accessible imaging modality. X-Rays do an excellent job showing dense structures - such as a bone or bone-related injury. However, they do a poor job showing soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage) and nerves. This is especially useful in the chiropractic world to show if there is a fracture or dislocation in a bone. 


MRI’s, on the other hand, can be expensive, tedious, and time-consuming. However, MRIs show what an x-ray cannot - the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, cartilage. Therefore, MRI is more suitable to diagnose disc herniations, sprain/strain, tendonitis, torn ligaments, pinched nerves, etc. 


So don’t be fooled by chiropractors that claim you have a nerve or spinal cord issue based on your x-ray! Make sure your imaging type matches your diagnosis. 


**Most insurance companies won’t approve an MRI unless an x-ray is done first - even if it is a soft tissue issue


Want a second opinion on your musculoskeletal health? Give us a call today at (615)-900-5187 or visit our website www.tennesseebackpaincenter.com




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