Doctor won't send me for an MRI. Is this usual?

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Hi, I hope what I'm about to write makes sense, it's a long story and I'm on strong pain medication at the moment!!!

I had back problems a few years ago. I was in agony after a sneeze! The doctor said it was a buldging disc and a gave me Tramadol and Prozac and I had some physio and it was better after about 5 weeks.

At the end of June this year I started with severe back pain again.It seemed to come out of nowhere! It's from the top of my pelvis down  on my right side. The pain goes right around my hip and down my right leg. I'm also getting severe pins and needles in my foot.The pain is different from the last time.I went back to the doctor who said it was a buldging disc again. Since then I've had 5 sessions with a chiropractor (which made it worse!) and 5 sessions with a NHS physio. He gave me acupuncture (which didn't work for me) and some manipulation. I have been doing exercises for my back 5 or more times a day since the pain started. I have had some improvement, I can actually sleep now, but as soon as I start to try and get back to my usual routine by doing a little bit if housework, it flares up again.

I have never had any sort of scan or xray on my back and my doctor has told me that they only do it if there's a problem with bowel movements or passing urine or numbness down below or weaknesses in the leg. It's really getting me down, I'm doing everything they've told me to do but it is just not getting better!

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  • Posted

    You absolutely must have an MRI done. I have had L4/L5 problems for years and five weeks ago I had surgery and am now totally pain free and getting more and more mobile everyday! I went to three doctors before I had an MRI and the disc hernia was so massive that the doctor jumped back in his chair. The previous two doctors just offered pain killers and six sessions of physio which helped to a small extent. It is important to know what is going on and the extent of the problem do that you can deal with it. It is worth spending the money on an MRI if you have to. I always dreaded the day that they would tell me I needed surgery but then I met many people who had positive outcomes! Insist on an MRI - go in crying to the Doctor if you have to !!!
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    • Posted

      Thanks for the reply. I saw the doctor today and ended up in tears. She did say that she was going to speak to the senior doctors to see what else can be done for me, I'm not holding my breath! I've seen 3 different doctors at my surgery and all have just given me more or stronger pain meds. Everyone keeps telling me I should change surgeries, I just wondered if this was NHS policy at all surgeries.
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    • Posted

      Wplease could you tell me how old you are and that was the operation for? Sorry to ask but I know it was for a herniated disc but did the surgeon\dr tell you anything and lasdtlt what part if the country are you in. Many thanks these questions are important to me too

      I totally agree with every single word Miguel said and would really like to know the outcome since .

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    • Posted

      I am 56 and I have very bad pain across my lower back. It is very difficult to raise myself to a sitting position and to stand up from a sitting position. If I lie in bed, I have to stay in the same position, otherwise I get a tearing pain across that part of the back. It is difficult to walk or to put clothes on the lower part of my body. At the moment, I am surviving on 2 x Tramadol 4 times a day and 1 x 5 mg of diazepam twice a day. i was told that no GP in Gosport was allowed to refer anyone for an MRI scan of the back. Yesterday, I saw my gynaecologist and she was amazed that I had not been referred for an MRI scan.
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  • Posted

    Barty321 I absolutely agree with Miguel on this one! You must insist on an MRI. You have been suffering far too long with this constant pain now. Your doctor has a duty of care under the NICE directive to refer you.

    The problem you are encountering is not uncommon in the UK I'm afraid to say and it all comes down to money!  Each area health trust in the UK receives revenue budgeting from central government and has to decide how to spend it. Unfortunately MRI scans are pretty expensive in the greater scheme of things (up to £1000), but that should not preclude you from receiving the care that you as a UK citizen are entitled to. I suggest that you go back to your doctor and tell him/her just how fed up you are with the constant pain, that the treatment you have received so far had not been effective in treating your condition and that it is affecting your life considerably,  both physically and mentally!  Back pain can be one of the most debilitating conditions one can endure and sometimes doctors will try all sorts of treatments to combat it. When conventional treatments don't work, then more effective treatments have to be pursued. As I said,  this unfortunately means that generally these treatments are much more expensive,  but in the long term are far more beneficial to the patient and the NHS overall. 

    I suffered for six years with mild sciatica following a fall onto my coccyx,  before a second fall made things so much worse for me. Like you, I was offered osteopathy and chiropractic treatments but neither worked. I was put onto a high regime of opiates to relieve my pain which made my life unbearable. I was merely existing day to day, before I realised I had to do something about it. I went to my doctor and told him everything and how the pain and the meds were ruining my life. Pretty soon after I had an MRI to discover a very bad posterior herniated L4/L5 disc which was impinging both nerve roots to my legs. I am going to see the orthopods this week to discuss my treatment options and can finally see an end to my pain.

    I hope this helps you somewhat in deciding where you go from here. All the best to you.

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    • Posted

      Thanks for the reply stuart1965. I explained to the doctor this morning how much my life is being affected by this pain. I am either in a constant haze from the pain meds or in pain! All she did was hand me a tissue because I was upset! I told her that if this is as good as it gets and I have to live with this pain I should at least know what's causing it! They just keep telling me back pain takes time and I haven't had it all that long really!

      I also have asthma and high bloodpressure. One of my bloodpressure medications says not to take NSAIDS with it but they've put me on them and keep telling me it's ok!

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    • Posted

      Omg Barty321!  I'm not a doctor,  but have been privileged enough to work in NHS front line care long enough to know a few things! 

      This can only be very frustrating for you, I'm sure. Being told not to do one thing and then being told the entire opposite! In my experience,  Dr's generally tend to understand their patients needs etc. But sometimes that understanding can be misguided.  Often as a result of pressure on their budget constraints.

      As a member of the caring profession myself,  it frustrates and upsets me greatly when colleagues in the same profession fail to provide the necessary support to their patient. I've seen it happen far too many times than I care to mention here.

      Do you have any other GP surgery that covers your area? If so,  I would suggest you tell your current GP that you aren't satisfied with the care you are receiving from them and register with another GP practice.  I know it's not the best solution for you because it means starting all over with all the explanations etc about your condition,  but you haven't anything to lose as far as I can see. Right now, you are the most important thing in all of this bureaucracy and you need to get things sorted to your satisfaction as soon as possible. 

      If you don't want to follow this path,  you can make a complaint to your local health authority regarding your treatment, or lack of it! 

      Here's a link that might help you decide what you want to do:

      http://www.nhs.uk/choiceintheNHS/Rightsandpledges/complaints/Pages/NHScomplaints.aspx

      In any case,  I would certainly "advise" your practice manager that you are prepared to do this because you don't believe that the GP's you have seen have your best interests in mind.

      I'm sorry I can't be of more support to you in bringing you a solution or help in a more positive fashion.  

      Please just don't give up the fight. It is your right to receive proper care from any part of the NHS, regardless of cost etc.

      Good luck with things and I hope you will be able to update us all with better and more positive news soon 😊

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    • Posted

      Thanks for the advice stuart1965. I've decided to change pratice. I've been with my surgery since I was born, my whole family had the same doctor. He retired a few years ago and the practice has got so big you rarely see the same doctor! There is another practice near my home, my parents already go there, I think it's time to change.

      I really do appreciate your advice. I was beginning to feel like I was going mad because no one was listening or it felt like they didn't believe me. It feels like they think I'm pushing for an operation and I'm really not. It's just that I need to at least know exactly what's causing this pain if I need to learn to live with it! 

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    • Posted

      I'm pleased for you Barty321. Glad I was able to support you.

      Cannot stress enough that you and what you need is the most important thing right now.

      I totally understand your pain and discomfort,  as do most on this site. 

      Stay strong and best wishes to you for a speedy solution. 

      Keep us up to date with what happens. It would be great to know.

      Cheers. 

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    • Posted

      Hi Barty,

      I'm absolutely praying you get this because it's so important to me that you respond. My girlfriend is experiencing symptoms almost identical to yours. Chiropractic help has only made it worse, she's had X-rays and they're all negative, and her doctors don't know what it is. Her mother is now refusing to pay for her mri even though she's 15 so it's not like she can pay for it. Did you end up figuring out what was wrong with you back? If you even still check this please respond it would mean a lot to me. She means everything to me and I hate seeing her in this much pain.

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  • Posted

    Hi Barty

    I've never heard of only having an MRI if you are having problems with bowels etc

    I've had a few for hip and back pain.

    You can get GP's who are very awkward .......I was lucky it was my nice consultant at the hospital that referred me for MRI's

    My GP...she is useless......She got a letter from the consultant one time askibg her to refer me to a pain clinic...she rang me and told me to make an appointment with her. All she did was tell me how useless they were etc etc etc and stood at the door with her hand on the handle...my 10 mins was nearly upeek

    I just sat there until she referred me  LOL

    Another time....my back pain was getting worse and I went up to see the physio only to be told he had broken his leg....the receptionist said we are asking all his clients to get a referral from their GP's so that we can send them to another physio.....she wouldnt refer me....just said....do the exercises you were given for your OA...thats enough!!!

    Good Luck

    Love

    Eileen

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  • Posted

    Hi barty321,

    Hopefully you have now changed practice and have booked or had your first appointment? Stuart1965 and miguel65726 are right in saying that you must get an MRI. Back pain is horrendous and life limiting as it is impossible to have a 'normal' life and do everyday things when you are in absolute agony. It does sound as though you have a disc problem which is impinging on your Sciatic nerve, probably S1 and there are treatments available which will restore your quality of life. One thing I would recommend is that you DON'T do is the hoovering as this will only make your Sciatica flare-up. It was my Consultant who warned me of this before I had my first op', a micro-disectomy of L5/S1. Unfortunately, like Stuart1965, I now have L4, L5 both sitting on S1 due to prolapse and spondylolisthesis which is going to require a little medical mechano, fusion, etc. to correct smile but it will restore my quality of life and relieve at least 75% of my pain. However, that's me and it is YOU that needs urgent help from the medical profession. Good luck and keep us posted on your progress!

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  • Posted

    Change your doctors, you should not have to beg them for a scan for your health. Then saying they will discuss with senior doctor is crap, in the mean time you are still suffering and waiting.  Its disgusting the way some doctors treat patients. I had mri scan last year on my back and know what it is now. two herniated discs, it since improved but it sounds like you may have sciatica as well which I had and thats terrible nerve pain. Your doctor is trying to save paying out nhs money for the mri scan, thats what it comes down to, money. I had mine done through harley street through my hospital and gp service. They arranged it all...
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  • Posted

    Unfortunately it seems to be the way, cutbacks, my husband was in agony for 8 months before they finally gave him an MRI. He had microdisectomy 3 months later after we paid to see neurosurgeon. Keep pushing, unfortunately unless you shout you get nothing.
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    • Posted

      NICE guidelines Oct 2016 stated that for lower back pain there should be no MRI scans, traction etc, only PHYSIO..

      GPs are not allowed to refer for MRI scans.  First they must refer to a specialist who are the MRI scan referrers.

      I had a knee injury in 2003, GP diagnosed kneecap tendons which would cure themselves in 2 years time.

      After 3 years when it became much worse he referred me to an Orthopedic consultant who did refer for an MRI scan which proved that I was right and it was a torn cartilidge.

      August 2016 after weeding the garden, I woke next morning to screaming sciatica shooting pains.  Waited 6 months but it just got worse and I couldn't bend at all without agony..

      GP quoted word for word the NICE guidelines and referred me to have Physio where I was diagnosed with an ageing stiff back and arthritis and sent me home with excercises to do which just made it worse..

      Eventually  made an appt. with GP who sent me for a normal x-ray of my lower back and hip despite me telling him that I had now got pain in my upper front thighs and weakness which caused me to fall up m 5" front door step and had to show him my bruises on forehead elbow and knee to prove it and all he did was laugh??!  

      The X-ray showed 2 discs resting on each other and one had disappeared completely.  GP again referred me back to the same Physio that told me I had only  a stiff back .He refused my request for a Physio I had used prtivately,  a few years ago after asking me my preferences.  He deliberately avoided referring me to an MRI referring consultant i.e spinal specialist or neurologist.

      He prescribed 30mg of Codeine which did nothing for my pain at all, but I found medication that did but was refused it .

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