To Image or Not to Image

min read


The Sports Injury Clinic

Jake Sugarman

October 2, 2023


In the world of physical health and well-being, injuries can sometimes take us by surprise, leaving us wondering whether or not to seek medical imaging. As you embark on your journey to recovery, understanding when to opt for injury imaging can make a significant difference in your treatment plan and overall outcome. It is very easy to get confused by when an injury should or should not be scanned. Hopefully this guide provides some clarity on when getting an image is useful, and when holding off might be your best option.

When to Consider Injury Imaging:

  1. Persistent and Severe Pain: If you've experienced persistent and intense pain that doesn't subside with rest and basic treatments, such as ice or over-the-counter pain relievers, it might be time to consider imaging. This is especially important if the pain is significantly affecting your daily life and functionality.
  2. Suspected Fractures or Dislocations: In cases of suspected fractures or joint dislocations, medical imaging can provide vital information to accurately diagnose and plan the appropriate treatment. Prompt diagnosis can prevent complications and promote faster healing.
  3. Limited Range of Motion: When an injury results in limited range of motion or difficulty in moving a specific body part, imaging can help identify the underlying cause, including the specific tissues involved, or other issues that might require targeted interventions.

When to Reconsider Injury Imaging:

  1. Without Professional Guidance: Deciding whether or not to get an injury imaged should ideally involve consultation with a healthcare professional. A physiotherapist can assess your condition, consider your medical history, and recommend the appropriate course of action based on their expertise.
  2. Minor Bruising or Sprains: In cases of minor bruising, strains, or sprains that do not significantly impede your daily activities, it may not be necessary to rush to get an imaging scan immediately. Often, these injuries can be managed effectively with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE).
  3. Early Stages of Injury: It's essential to give your body time to heal naturally during the initial stages of an injury. While pain might be present, many injuries respond well to conservative treatments, and imaging may not provide substantial benefits at this early phase.
  4. Overreliance on Imaging: Relying solely on imaging without considering other diagnostic tools can sometimes lead to unnecessary interventions. Remember     that medical imaging provides a snapshot of your body's internal structures, but a comprehensive diagnosis considers clinical evaluation as well.

The decision to seek injury imaging should be a thoughtful one, based on the nature of the injury, its severity, its impact on your daily life, and ideally with the input of a healthcare professional. While imaging can provide valuable insights, it's not always the immediate solution. Trust the guidance of healthcare professionals, especially physiotherapists who specialize in musculoskeletal health. They can help you weigh the pros and cons, guiding you towards the most appropriate course of action for your specific situation.

Ultimately, your wellbeing is the top priority. By making informed decisions about injury imaging, you're taking a proactive step towards a swift and effective recovery, allowing you to regain your strength and mobility with confidence. Book online now or call our reception team on 9783 9990.


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The Sports Injury Clinic acknowledges the traditional owners of the land, the Bunurong people, and pays respect to Elders past, present and emerging.
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