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6 Tips for a Less Stressful MRI Experience

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Medical testing has come a long way over the last century. Today, doctors have a lot more tools at their disposal to diagnose a host of problems. A number of medical disciplines make use of different medical scans to help see what a patient may be suffering from and to rule out other issues. MRI imaging machines are used in orthopedic surgery centers, emergency care services facilities, among others. If your doctor has told you that you need an MRI, it can be a scary process, especially if you have never had one done, seen one performed or are claustrophobic.

  1. Talk to your doctor about the process. When your doctor talks to you about getting a medical scan, talk about them about the process and what they think they may find or what the are trying to rule out. For people who are ok with small spaces, the fear may really be coming from the worry about what they will find. If it is a matter of claustrophobia, ask if you can have an open MRI done, they are easier for people with this phobia but are not advisable for all conditions and injuries.
  2. Go to the medical imaging center. Before you have your medical scan done, call the center and see if you can come by and look at the equipment and ask your questions before the appointment. Most of the time they will be willing to work with you and they want you to have a better experience when you are having your medical scan done. Bring your list of questions to ask so you do not forget any.
  3. Bring a friend or relative along with you. If you are still worried, bringing someone with you to help you relax before you have the medical scan done can lower your stress level and make the process a lot easier to deal with. They can distract you while you wait for your turn to have the scan done. A lot of centers recommend this for patients who are new to the process and may be nervous.
  4. Bring music that you find relaxing. If you are having an MRI done, you will find that the machine itself is very noisy. That is because they use magnets. One way people deal with the experience is to bring music with them. Because you cannot bring metal into the machine, the facility will have other ways for you to listen to your music. Ask them about this before you go in. Different centers have different ways to deal with this but just about all let people listen to something while the medical scan is being performed.
  5. Consider mindfulness meditation. One technique that a lot of people around the world do to deal with stressful situations and experiences is to do some mindfulness meditation exercises. One thing you can do is focus on your breathing. When you are in the machine, and even before, close your eyes and picture something calming. Breathe in for a count of four, hold it for a count of two, and breathe out for a count of six. When you take longer to breathe out than it takes to breathe in, you naturally lower your heart rate, which can help relax you.
  6. Talk to your doctor about medication. If you have tried the breathing exercises and mindfulness meditation does not seem to help, you can always talk to your primary care doctor about some medication to help you deal with the stress of having the medical scan done. For some people, claustrophobia is just too much. In these instances, taking some medication before you have your scan can make things go a lot easier.

It is perfectly normal to be nervous before you have any medical procedure or test done, even when it is as non-invasive as these medical scans are. Ask your questions and do your preparation and it will go a lot better than you probably expect. The good news is also that these medical scans do not take long, they do not hurt, and they are both safe and totally non-invasive. Plus, they can give your doctor the information they need to help you.

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