Recently, my doctor recommended I get an MRI to help diagnose the cause of my shin splint pain so that an appropriate treatment plan can be formulated. My shin splints have been reoccuring for several years and in fact, have never actually cleared up. Last year, I was fitted for custom orthotics to support my extremely high arches and that did alleviate the pain on the front of my shins but the interior pain above my ankles continues. X-rays revealed no cause for concern, i.e. stress fracture. What exactly will the doctor expect to "see" using MR Imaging, how will this help him formulate a treatment plan, and does the use of MRI to help understand shin pain justify the cost (about $1,500)?
You are asking very good and appropriate questions. I would suggest one more question, can the manner in whic h you run contribute to your shin pain? Take a look at the following articles Shin Splints - Stride length and shock absorption, Powerful Treatment for Running Injury, and Running Injury - Asking a better question.
Finaly if you have not had some look at your running form, the manner in which you run consider a Slow Motion Video Gait Analysis.
Damien Howell MS, PT, OCS - www.damienhowellpt.com
Since this is on-going, the x-ray would have shown something if there were stress fractures. X-rays won't show stress fractures until there is new bone growth as part of healing. That is, they won't show a new stress fracture. A bone scan is better at showing stress fractures. It sounds like the doctor suspects soft tissue damage (muscle / tendon / ligament) which the MRI will do a better job of showing.