X-rays are inexpensive, quick, and usually done right in the doctor’s office. They use a theoretically dangerous ionizing radiation to create images of bones and dense tissue. In the small doses that you receive during a few x-rays there’s probably nothing to worry about. An MRI is expensive (30-40 times as expensive as an x-ray), takes about 30 minutes, and the equipment is often not available in the average doctor’s office although more and more orthopedic surgeon’s offices are equipped with them. An x-ray is far better than an MRI at detecting fractures in a bone, but an MRI is far better at spotting damage to a soft tissue like a ligament, tendon, or disk. As a practical matter, workers’ compensation adjusters like to avoid the expense of an MRI unless other options have been exhausted first.
This doesn’t mean there is no way that the adjuster will promptly authorize an MRI. If there is overwhelming evidence of a disk injury she may well go ahead and do it. But don’t be surprised if there is a delay. This delay can be lessened if you let us push the issue down at the Industrial Commission.