5 Ways To Reduce Anxiety Around Your MRI Scan

12.03.2021

Thousands of MRI scans take place everyday. MRI scanners are one of the best tools available for diagnosing a range of medical problems, through a completely painless and safe procedure. Most areas of the body can be scanned using an MRI machine, from your head all the way to your toes. They can detect anything from a tumour to a stroke, and even ligament damage. So whether you are experiencing headaches, you have back pain or you are experiencing knee problems, an MRI scan will help to determine the cause.

If you are booked in for an MRI scan and are feeling worried about your appointment, you are not alone. It is estimated that 4 out of 10 patients experience high levels of anxiety leading up to their appointment. Being in a confined, enclosed space can trigger feelings of claustrophobia, and you may worry about what will happen during the scan. So, if you find yourself googling “nervous about mri scan” don’t worry, with over 12 million results you are certainly not alone! Read our tips below on how to remain calm throughout your appointment…

1. Understanding the process

Firstly, it is important to understand that MRI scans are a painless and safe procedure. During your scan you will be lying on a bed, flat on your back, which is then moved into the scanner either head or feet first, depending on which body part you are having scanned. We use a modern high-spec 3.0T MRI scanner here at LycaHealth; unlike previous scanners, modern scanners are fully lit and have much wider openings.

The MRI is loud and can make unusual noises throughout the scanning, but don’t worry as this is completely normal. You will be given earphones or earplugs to help reduce the noise and make you feel more comfortable. Scans can last anywhere from 15 to 90 minutes, depending on the body part you are having checked. It is important to keep as still as possible throughout your scan. 

2. Talk to our staff

Your MRI scans will be carried out by one of our qualified and specialist radiographers. Before your scan, your radiographer will explain the process to you and talk you through what you can expect, as well as how long the MRI will take. Once the scan has started, you are able to talk to the radiographer on an intercom and they will be able to see you on a monitor. If you are feeling anxious, then don’t be nervous in telling your clinician during your appointment. They will be able to support you through the scan and make sure you are as comfortable as possible throughout the process. We’re here to make the scan experience as stress-free for you as it can be! 

3. Control your breathing

Keeping still and relaxed during the MRI scan is very important; one of the best ways you can do this is to focus on your breathing. So once the scan is underway, close your eyes and focus on mindful breathing. It can be helpful to count in time with your breaths as a way to stay focused. Some people find it helpful to count steadily from 1 to 5. Then, without pausing or holding your breath, let it flow out gently, counting from 1 to 5 again. Focusing on breathing techniques will bring your mind to a state of calm and relaxation, helping to relieve some of your anxiety.

4. Listen to your favourite music or audiobook

Most MRI scanners have the ability to play a CD through the headphones. So during your MRI scan, you can listen to your favourite music or audiobook to help you to relax. Simply bring along a music device or a CD and your clinician can play the music or audiobook of your choosing throughout the scan, choose soothing music or a peaceful podcast to help take your mind off the scan, and ease your thoughts.

5. Wear a sleep mask

Throughout the day, how often do you get the chance to lie down, close your eyes and take some much needed time out? Shift your mindset surrounding your scan by treating it as a chance for some relaxation time. If you’re particularly anxious about confined spaces and suffer with claustrophobia then put a sleeping mask on before the bed is pushed into the scanner. That way you don’t have to even see the space you are in throughout the scan. You can lie comfortably with your eye mask on and focus on breathing and listening to your favourite music. Take yourself to your happy place and forget where you are. 

If you want to book a MRI scan but are feeling anxious, don’t worry we are here to make it as stress free as possible. We hope the above tips will help you feel more relaxed during your scan. At LycaHealth we offer same day and self-referral MRI appointments so book your same day MRI scan today. 

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