Diagnostic testing methods

Your physician may request a range of diagnostic tests to help identify the specific nature of your musculoskeletal injury or condition. This allows us to provide you with effective and comprehensive care.

Evaluation of pain requires a physician experienced in diagnosing conditions. The work-up begins with a detailed history and physical examination. Your medical history helps the doctor understand your pain and the influence of your lifestyle on your pain.

During your physical exam, your physician will try to pinpoint the source of pain. Simple tests for flexibility and muscle strength may also be conducted. Diagnostic tests may be ordered to confirm the location and source of your pain.

Diagnostics may include:

  • X-rays are usually the first step in diagnostic testing methods. X-rays show bones and the spaces between the bones. The part of your body being pictured is positioned between the X-ray machine and photographic film. The patient needs to remain still while the machine briefly sends electromagnetic waves (radiation) through your body, exposing the film to reflect your internal structure. The level of radiation exposure from X-rays is not harmful, but your doctor will take special precautions if you are pregnant.

    Bones, tumors and other dense matter appear white or light because they absorb the radiation. Less dense soft tissues and breaks in bone let radiation pass through, making these parts look darker on the X-ray film. Sometimes, to make certain organs stand out in the picture, you are asked to be given barium sulfate or a dye.

    You will probably be X-rayed from several angles. If you have a fracture in one limb, your doctor may want a comparison X-ray of your uninjured limb.

  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) uses a magnetic field and radio waves to generate highly-detailed pictures of the inside of your body. Because X-rays only show bones, MRIs are needed to see soft tissues. These images help your doctor provide a more accurate diagnosis.

    Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is a safe, totally painless way for your physician to look inside the body without x-rays. The exam uses radiowaves and a magnetic field to create images of the soft tissues of the body.

    You can eat, drink and take regularly-prescribed medications prior to the exam. You may be asked to change into a hospital gown to avoid any possibility of interference from metal in zippers and fasteners. You will be asked to remove your watch, credit cards, jewelry, keys, hearing aid, and any other metal objects before approaching the MRI.

  • Bone Scan - Bone imaging is used to detect infection, malignancy, fractures and arthritis in any part of the skeleton. Bone scans are also used for finding lesions for biopsy or excision.