Wrist MRI

Learn more about the Wrist body part, what can be detected when it's scanned, and why you might need it scanned.

A Wrist MRI Scan: What to expect?

Our everyday lives are impacted by technology. More of our time is being spent online, and our hands typing away on a laptop or holding a smartphone.

Over time there has been a correlation drawn to the increase of handheld technology use and wrist injuries. Research has shown that 7% to 16% of people in the UK will suffer from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)

The wrist is a complicated joint, home to many small bones, muscles, tendons, nerves and ligaments.

Therefore when you experience wrist pain, it is very difficult to determine the cause through physical exam or x-rays alone. A wrist MRI scan can help doctors pinpoint the cause and severity of wrist damage. It’s important to find wrist damage early to begin the recovery process.

Wrist pain can affect individuals across all ages demographics, particularly those who perform strenuous repetitive tasks. However, it is more prevalent as we get older, beginning in middle age.

If you have been experiencing wrist pain and have thought about getting a wrist MRI scan, continue to find out what you can expect from the procedure.

What Makes up the Wrist Joint?

The wrist joint is a type of ellipsoidal joint, meaning it can move along two planes, connecting the hand to the forearm. Although it functions as one visibly moving joint, inside the wrist is several different joints and bones. Which includes:

  • End Portions of the Radius and Ulna Bones
  • 8 Carpal Bones
  • Portions of 5 Metacarpal Bones

The radiocarpal joint, or wrist joint, is also home to:

  • Ligaments
  • Nerves
  • Cartlidge
  • Muscles
  • Additional Fibrous Tissues

Together this myriad of ligaments, muscles, and tissues allow the wrist to perform, flexion, extension, adduction, and abduction. With many complex structures, it can be challenging to diagnose the cause of pain without the assistance of a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan.

How is an MRI of the Wrist Done?

An MRI scan uses a magnetic field and radio waves to capture images of your wrist joint from multiple angles. This will show the radiologist the presence of,

  • Fractures
  • Inflammation
  • Cysts
  • Ligament Tears
  • Nerve Damage

The MRI machine takes images, referred to as slices, as it moves through the wrist joint across one angle. The images an MRI on the wrist generates will allow the radiologist to identify any abnormalities or damage to the wrist structures. Once an issue has been determined, your physician can prescribe a treatment plan to begin your recovery and reduce your pain symptoms.

How Long Does a Wrist MRI Take?

The average wrist MRI takes approximately 10–30 minutes. In some circumstances, your radiologist may need to use a contrast material–usually iodine–to better highlight specific wrist structures. If this is the case, the scan may take 30–45 minutes.

It is important to stay very still when the scan is taking place, as any sudden movements will cause blurred images. In the case the images were not clear, the scan will need to be performed again.

How Much Does a Wrist MRI Cost?

The average cost of an MRI scan in the UK is £363. However, at our MRI centre, the average starts as low as £289. The benefit of choosing a private MRI scan is reduced wait times.

The current NHS wait time for a non-emergency MRI scan is up to 18 weeks. At our centre, you can get an appointment in as little as 5 working days. When dealing with so many complex structures in your wrist, it is important to find the cause of pain quickly. This decreases the possibility of the issue getting worse, and increases the chance of making a full recovery.

The Bottom Line

Wrist pain is frustrating. If you are looking to identify the cause of your pain, consider getting an MRI wrist scan. An early diagnosis is key to making a quick recovery. If you have any additional questions, feel free to Contact Us and one of our team members will be happy to answer any of your concerns.


  1. https://www.ramsayhealth.co.uk/about/latest-news/carpal-tunnel-syndrome-rises
  2. https://bmcmusculoskeletdisord.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12891-019-2902-8
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25872521/
  4. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/337267600_Wrist_pain_a_systematic_review_of_prevalence_and_risk_factors-_what_is_the_role_of_occupation_and_activity
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9218298/
  6. https://www.kenhub.com/en/library/anatomy/the-wrist-joint
  7. https://www.biologyonline.com/dictionary/ellipsoidal-joint
  8. https://www.elliothospital.org/website/diagnostic-imaging-mri-hand.php
  9. https://oryon.co.uk/imaging/scans/mri/

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