Emergency Physician Questions Emergency Physician

Will the ER do an MRI for neck pain?

I am a 25 year old male. I have neck pain and want to go to ER. Will the ER do an MRI for neck pain?

3 Answers

Generally no in most places. The E.R. is more of a triage setting. If you are not in serious or critical condition - you are released to deal with your pain electively. Very few emergency rooms have good access to MRI. They may do x-rays, or sometimes, a CT (CAT) scan. It is more likely, you will be recommended to see a spine specialist who will order your MRI.
ER PROBABLY will NOT do an MRI of your neck unless the pain syndrome is ACUTE with significant NEUROLOGICAL signs and symptoms. They may do an x-ray or sometimes a CT scan--which may or may not tell the diagnosis. And in some hospitals, your ability to pay may determine what test is done.

As your pain is not acute, I suggest you see a good internal medicine MD, famiy MD, or a spine surgeon. They will take a good histiry, examine you, and then decide if an MRI is indicated. Remember that having an MRI will not help reduce your neck pain one bit by itself. But it may give a specific diagnosis(like a disc herniation, for example) that would then serve to determine what type of TREATMENT may help reduce your pain(ie--physical therapy, medication, or rarely--surgery.)