Do I need to demand an MRI from my GP?

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Hi there, hoping for some advice and input on whether I should accept my GP's eval, or keep pushing for an MRI and/or neorologist referral. Sorry in advance for the long post... 

I've suffered from migraines most of my life, starting when I was around 10 or 11. Over time I learned to manage them and for most of my 20s (i'm 32 now) they became less frequent, about 1 every 3-5 months or so. Not much of a problem/worry at all.

About a year ago, however, I started getting them every 3-4 weeks. On top of that, I started getting them multiple times in sequence; sometimes twice a day, sometimes back to back days. This had never happened before.

What brought me into my GP though was in March last year, for 5 days I had this off and on stabbing pain in one area of my head (front right). It felt exactly like the pain I have during migraines, except in random bursts, and always at that same spot. This was capped off on the 5th day with one of the worst migraines I can remember. The pain was unbearable, drugs did not help, and it was dead smack on where I had the stabbing pain all week.

So I go into my GP and he refers me for a CT. About a month goes by, I get the scan, and the results come back negative. At the time, we were in process of house hunting / moving and my GP chaulks it up to stress / cluster headaches and basically shrugs it off.

Since that week in March I now regularly get 'random stabbing pains' in that one spot in addition to my increased migraine frequency. The stabbing pains come and go; sometimes they are there for days, sometimes I go a few weeks and nothing; only for it to return again.

I've seen my GP 2 more times since and he continues to chaulk it up to stress/cluster headaches since the CT came back negative, and prescribed some kind of anti-migraine pill. I brought up the idea of getting an MRI and he basically refused/shrugged it off.

I realize the probability is in my favor that there is no tumor or aneurysm in there causing these problems; however, I can't help but wonder if something is being missed by my GP and his reluctance to refer for an MRI or neurologist...

Should I just suck it up and learn to live with this or push my GP further?

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  • Posted

    Keep pushing for mri. Less invasive than a cat scan. Try a neurologist also. You need to push for everything possible as a process of elimination.

    The stabbing pain does sound like cluster headaches as my daughter suffers greatly from them. she's only 13 and medications don't work for her. Maybe try a naturopath, headache clinic, physio. (My daughter has tried them all also).

    Wishing you all the very best

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  • Posted

    Hi Squishy,

    This is typical of some drs they just shrug of headaches, yes stress will make them worse, that doesnt mean he shouldnt take you seriously!  Yes definitely PUSH for an MRI and see a Neurologist, to get the right meds for you.  Lots are available some only the Neuro can prescribe.  If your dr still refuses go to a different dr and NAG them to get what you want, need and deserve to get these headaches dealt with!

    Good luck and please let us know how you get on.

    Take care and best wishes

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  • Posted

    If your GP won't put a refural in for MRI asked to see a migrain specliest there are a number of Migrain clinics and they might be able to help.  My Husband is waiting for a refureal to come thought at present.    He doesn't have the same stabbing pain you do but his migran attacks have changed and the symtomos got worse.  We did a few years back see someone from Oxford about cluster migrains as that is what he was suffering with at the time and he metioned that it could be the chanage in his hormouns as he gets older.  Though said there is no evidance for this in men as hormon changes are difficult to track in men as with women it is eiser to track.      He now loses the feeling down the left hand side of his body looks a bit like stroke so can be very scarry the longer it lasts.  So we are back and forth to the GP and pushing again to seek answers as to why his Migrains had changed.  In his mid 20's we were able to manage them and now its impacting on both his and mine day to day life. 

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  • Posted

    Hi, I get migraines and anti migraine meds don't work for me either, but one night i had one so bad that i was vomiting non stop for 24 hours, i ag this point ended in hospital and the hospital gave me two 300mg aspirin and within 15 minutes, the migraine had completely disappeared, see if ur gp to see if u can try some as, its worth ago to get rid of ur migraines.

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  • Posted

    Yes I would definitely have him refer me to a neurologist because they specialize in these things and a GP does not. And then the neurologist knows what he's looking for when he gets CAT scans and MRIs back differently than a GP. My GP told me it looked like arthritis in my neck. My neurologist said I had a bulging disc and it explained a lot of why I was having severe arm pain. I still have not resolved my hemiplegic left-sided weakness headaches but the neurologist is in a much better position than a GP. We don't have patients rights unless we insist on them and assert them. My prayers are with you.

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    • Posted

      You make a baled point, NHS is under pressure and if you don't keep on top of them then things slip though the net. My husband has had migraine for last three weeks, different levels of pain though out still suffering loss of feeling. We went to the GP last week and was told they would refure him there and then. They have left us down in the past so phone this morning to discover the letter had not been sent. So now have a reminder set to chase again tomorrow.

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    • Posted

      This is always my point, to get anywhere with drs, certainly when it comes to migraines, you have to nag them! A lot of drs fob us off that migraines are nothing.  These drs dont get migraines so dont understand or care sometimes.  Nagging is the only way you get anywhere with them
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    • Posted

      I agree with you completely. What has helped me the most is to remember they are an employee not God. If he won't listen to me I ask for a referral. I was quite surprised that because the neurologist was only talking about drugs and not listening to me I finally went to my psychiatrist. Surprisingly enough he suggested some herbal remedies for me because I'm too sensitive to most medications. And I haven't had a migraine in 13 days on SAM-e. I am so relieved and we've had thunderstorms and Santa Anna's. I just keep shopping till I find something and someone who will get it or maybe more accurately who gets me. Just keep searching.

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  • Posted

    Hi, I don't think it is unreasonable to have an MRI. I'm a radiographer and you can have an MRI on medicare for unexplained headaches. Its highly unlikely that you have a tumour or aneurysm. However i think that through my own experiance with chronic headaches, knowing there is 'nothing wrong' is comforting, plus mri are more equiped to diagnose brain abnormalities like Arnold chari defects etc. It sounds like its in your best interest to see a neurologist to diagnose the type of headache you are having. If you get a referral through the neuro then you can ask for csf study and more specific imaging of your vessels. Also go see a gp who is interested! . I wish I'd done it sooner. Hope this helps x

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  • Posted

    Hi, I don't think it is unreasonable to have an MRI. I'm a radiographer and you can have an MRI on medicare for unexplained headaches (Australia) Its highly unlikely that you have a tumour or aneurysm. However i think that through my own experiance with chronic headaches, knowing there is 'nothing wrong' is comforting, plus mri are more equiped to diagnose brain abnormalities like Arnold chari defects etc. It sounds like its in your best interest to see a neurologist to diagnose the type of headache you are having. If you get a referral through the neuro then you can ask for csf study and more specific imaging of your vessels. Also go see a gp who is interested! . I wish I'd done it sooner. Hope this helps x

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