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Hand MRI


Hand and finger pain can significantly impact daily activities, from simple tasks like typing to more complex movements involving grip and dexterity. When symptoms persist or worsen, understanding the underlying causes is very important and diagnostic tools like MRI become crucial. This guide provides essential information on hand MRI, including common conditions, symptoms indicating the need for an MRI, and how to prepare for and interpret the results.

Symptoms that indicate the Need for Hand Imaging

Hand imaging, which includes X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and ultrasounds, is often used to diagnose the underlying cause of hand symptoms. Here are symptoms that may indicate the need for hand imaging:

  1. Persistent Pain
  2. Swelling
  3. Decreased Range of Motion
  4. Numbness and Tingling
  5. Weakness
  6. Visible Deformities
  7. History of Trauma
  8. Soft Tissue Damage: Symptoms suggesting damage to tendons, ligaments, or muscles, such as popping, clicking, or a feeling of instability in the joints.
  9. Chronic Conditions: Worsening symptoms of chronic conditions such as arthritis (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis) that are not well controlled with current treatments.
  10. Unexplained Symptoms: Unexplained hand or wrist symptoms that do not have an obvious cause and require further investigation.
  11. Lumps or Masses: Presence of lumps, bumps, or other masses in the hand or wrist that need to be evaluated for cysts, tumours, or other growths.

When to See a Doctor

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to consult a healthcare provider. They will perform a clinical evaluation and may order imaging studies to diagnose the cause of the symptoms. 

Imaging studies provide crucial information that can help in diagnosing the exact cause of the symptoms and in planning appropriate treatment.

Benefits of Getting a Hand MRI for Diagnosing Pain

Getting a hand MRI offers several benefits for diagnosing pain and related conditions:

  1. Detailed Soft Tissue Visualization: MRI provides high-resolution images of soft tissues such as tendons, ligaments, muscles, and nerves, which are not always clearly visible on X-rays or CT scans. This allows for precise identification of injuries or abnormalities causing pain.
  2. Accurate Diagnosis: MRI accurately detects conditions like tendon tears, ligament injuries, nerve compression syndromes (e.g., carpal tunnel syndrome), and soft tissue masses (e.g., ganglion cysts), helping healthcare providers pinpoint the exact source of pain.
  3. Early Detection: MRI can detect early signs of injuries or conditions before symptoms worsen, enabling timely intervention and preventing potential complications.
  4. Non-invasive and Safe: MRI is a non-invasive imaging technique that does not use ionising radiation, making it safe for repeated use without significant risk of exposure, especially beneficial for monitoring chronic conditions or assessing treatment efficacy over time.

Overall, the benefits of a hand MRI lie in its ability to provide detailed, accurate imaging of soft tissue structures, facilitating precise diagnosis and tailored treatment plans for alleviating pain and improving hand function.

Checklist for MRI on Hand and Wrist

Before undergoing an MRI scan of the hand and wrist, it's important to follow certain guidelines to ensure a smooth and successful procedure. 

Here's a checklist to help you prepare:

  • Remove Metal Objects: Take off jewellery, watches, hearing aids, and any other metal objects.
  • Check for Implants: Inform the MRI technician if you have metal implants, pacemakers, cochlear implants, or any other metal or electronic devices in your body. Some implants may not be MRI-compatible.
  • Wear Comfortable Clothing: Wear loose-fitting clothing without metal fasteners or opt for a hospital gown provided by the facility.
  • Avoid Metallic Clothing: Do not wear clothes with metallic threads or accessories.
  • Discuss Claustrophobia: If you are claustrophobic, talk to your doctor about options such as sedatives or open MRI machines.
  • Follow Eating and Drinking Instructions: Follow any specific instructions regarding food and drink. Generally, there are no restrictions, but some cases may vary.
  • Medication: Continue to take prescribed medications unless otherwise instructed by your doctor.

By following this checklist, you can help ensure a safe and efficient MRI scan for your hand and fingers. Always consult your healthcare provider or the MRI facility if you have any specific questions or concerns before the procedure.

What does an MRI of the hand Show?

  • Covers all essential structures within the hand and wrist region:some text
    • Bones
    • Joints
    • Ligaments
    • Tendons
    • Muscles
    • Nerves
  • Provides detailed views of:some text
    • Fingers
    • Metacarpal bones
    • Carpals (wrist bones)
    • Surrounding soft tissues

Identifies and Evaluates:

  • Fractures
  • Arthritis
  • Tendonitis
  • Ligament tears
  • Nerve compression syndromes like carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Soft tissue abnormalities like cysts or tumours

What to Expect During a Hand MRI scan

Positioning During a Hand MRI and its Significance: During a hand MRI, proper positioning is crucial for obtaining clear images of the hand and wrist. Patients lie flat on their back with the arm extended comfortably above the head or alongside the body. 

This positioning ensures comprehensive coverage of the entire hand and wrist area, minimising motion artefacts that can distort images. By reducing these artefacts, radiologists can accurately diagnose conditions such as ligament tears, tendon injuries, arthritis, and nerve compression syndromes like carpal tunnel syndrome. Additionally, ensuring patient comfort and safety throughout the procedure contributes to the efficiency and effectiveness of the MRI scan.

How long does an MRI take?
The duration of a hand MRI typically ranges from 20 to 45 minutes, depending on several factors including the specific protocols used by the imaging facility, the complexity of the condition being evaluated, and whether contrast dye is administered.


A hand MRI is instrumental in diagnosing and managing various conditions causing hand and finger pain. By understanding the procedure, preparing effectively, and interpreting results with your healthcare provider, you can take proactive steps toward managing your hand health and improving your quality of life.

If you are experiencing persistent hand pain, schedule a hand MRI with GetScanned. Visit us to avoid long NHS wait times and take charge of your hand wellness journey.

Don't wait—get faster answers and take control of your hand health with GetScanned, bypassing NHS wait times!

Lorea content writter
Reviewed by
Dr. Sachin Shah
Clinical Lead
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Frequently asked questions

Do I need a GP-referral?

No prior GP-referral is required. Booking with us includes a GP phone consultation and referral. Shortly after booking you will be contacted by a GP from our team who will discuss your scan and provide a referral.

How long is an MRI scan?

MRI scans generally take a bit longer than other types of scans. Individual scans take 10-30 minutes depending on the body part being scanned, overall it can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 90 minutes. You do have to lay very still for an MRI and if there is movement the scan may need to be repeated which can add some additional time.

What’s included in my booking?

With your GetScanned booking, you will receive:

  • A pre-scan phone consultation with a member of our medical team.
  • A referral for the scan.
  • Scheduling of a private MRI scan at your preferred scanning centre.
  • Access to your written report by a radiologist.
  • Access to your scan images (online and downloadable).

How much is a private MRI scan?

A private MRI scan cost varies depending on the part of the body being scanned and the location the scan is performed. Generally, a private MRI scan in the UK starts at around £350, and includes the scheduling, scan itself and results.

What’s the difference between an open and closed MRI?

Closed MRI machines are the traditional and first type of MRI. They are used more frequently because they provide higher quality images, however they aren’t ideal for certain types of scan or when the patient has limited mobility. Open or wide-bore MRI machines don’t involve lying in a tight cylinder, instead they have wider openings with more space and are therefore considered better if you suffer from claustrophobia. A standing MRI or upright MRI is a new type of open MRI that allows the patient to be in various different positions, including weight bearing positions. If you would prefer an open MRI please filter by MRI type to find an open MRI near you, but please be aware it is only available at certain locations.

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