MRIs are one of the most common types of imaging scans. If you're struggling with joint pain and your doctor suspects a soft tissue injury, they'll likely send you for an MRI. An MRI is often called for if you're suspected to have trouble with an internal organ, too. But in spite of how common MRIs are, most people find they have a few questions that come up once they're scheduled for their first MRI. Here are a few of those questions, along with their answers.

How do MRIs work?

MRI machines are large and complex, but the way they work is actually quite simple. The machine generates a strong magnetic field. The way your tissues and organs react to that magnetic field varies. The machine measures the way those tissues react by registering the signals they release when exposed to the magnetic field. This allows images to be generated based on those signals; those images basically show how your body looks internally. 

Does an MRI hurt?

Nope. You won't feel a thing while you are in the MRI machine. You will have to lay still for the duration of the scan, which people sometimes find annoying. But listening to music or a podcast you enjoy can help you relax so this is not so unpleasant.

Can you get a full-body scan?

No, full-body scans in an MRI machine are practically unheard of. The MRI creates cross-sectional views of your body, and each cross-section can take around an hour to create. It would be nearly impossible to remain in the machine long enough to generate images of your entire body. So, your doctor will instead request images of only the area they suspect is injured or diseased.

Can larger people get an MRI scan?

Yes. While standard MRI scanners do usually have a weight and size limit, there are specialized MRI machines that are designed to accommodate people who are over these limits. You may need to drive a little further to a center that has one, however. Your doctor will know whether you're over the weight limit for the MRI machines at the clinic they refer you to. If your doctor is not concerned or has not sent you to a specialized clinic, there's really no reason to worry.

With these questions answered, you should be well prepared for your MRI appointment. This scan can take a while, but the experience should not be unpleasant.