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Surviving an MRI

I have multiple 90-minute MRIs planned.

Any tips on how to reduce the chance the knocking of that machine will induce a migraine?


  1. HI ,

    Great question! I think we all dread an MRI, at least I do.

    I haven't had one in a number of years, but the last time I did I was given a headset to listen to music, for distraction, and a cloth over my eyes. I found the music to be too distracting and uncomfortable. The previous MRI I counted the knocking, which distracted me and seemed to work out better.

    I wonder if you could speak with your doctor about pre-medicating before the MRI?

    Will you let me know how you do?
    Nancy Harris Bonk, Patient Advocate/Moderator

    1. Thanks for your response. I found the music to be irritating at my past mris also. I spoke with my doctor who had only the advice of wearing an eye mask. Was rather disappointed with that. I plan to take most of my medications in advance anyway. I have one for anxiety, one for allergies, and one for nausea that all are relaxants I can take together (I have a driver). I will have my triptan handy. I have an mri approved caftan and cozy socks to wear so as to avoid The Gown. And of course my eyes mask. I hope these little comforts will help. I have specialty earplugs that allow me to hear conversation (the techs have to be able to talk to you) but filter louder sounds. They also end up amplifying internal sounds like breathing and heartbeat, so I hope to focus meditatively on that. And I am going to pass on the music. And make sure to avoid other known triggers. Hydration may be a concern. Otherwise, still hopeful anyone has other tips.

      1. This is a very old posting, but I have to comment anyway. I have had several MRIs this year due to various surgeries. And one in March was unexpected and I went in there already with a migraine...and a doozy of one too! At least a level 8. Unfortunately, there was a requirement that my body have absolutely NO drugs in my system... not even nausea medicine, so I had to go through 45 minutes on my own. I used all of the techniques that I learned from to relax myself and not puke! I used deep breathing, mindful meditation and visualization to bring myself above the pain. By concentrating on my breathing, I was able to actually fall asleep!!! I never really thought that I could do this. Sure, I practiced what I learned, but I never really had to put it to the test. But after that day in March in the MRI, I have become a true believer.

        1. Hi Annie! That is so wild. It makes me think of hypnobirthing and other methods people use to cope with labor without medication. The mind is so powerful and I am in awe of what we can do. I have always struggled with deep breathing but the more regularly I practice it, the more I am starting to see results. It's a looooong process but I am encouraged by your story. Thanks for sharing with us! Hugs to you! -Melissa, team

      2. I had a hard time in the beginning too. I started with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy back in 2015 when it was recommended by my neurologist. It was really interesting, but hard to breathe natural for me. Then my GP gave me some Buddhist magazine that had articles on meditation. I got a little better, but still not really "there". Then I took that 8 week course on and that helped a LOT, because it brought together all the various ways to relax, with mindful meditation being just one way. By combining the ones I mentioned above, I've been able to get closer to what I think everyone talks about. But not all the time. My PT therapist last year gave me a new challenge when she added breathing with my ribs. Before POP surgery, you have to learn to relax all your body before they start building up muscles again. I always was told to breathe with my belly, but she said that was limiting my relaxation, so we started expanding my ribs to the sides. That one thing changed everything for me and made it much easier. Maybe give that a try. Good luck!

        1. Oh this is such a great tip! I, too, have a hard time breathing from my belly. I swear, sometimes it makes me nauseated to do it. Perhaps I'm doing it wrong? I worked with a specialist who had me lie down and she said when we lay on our backs we can't help but breath naturally from our bellies. But when we sit up, our brains kick in and we start with our weird habits and breathe tightly from our higher chests, or wherever. So, she kept telling me to reset by lying down. I still don't have the hang of it. Every time I sit up, I get all mixed up. Your rib tip is a very good one. Thank you! Warmly- Holly team.

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