Has anyone experience of a weight-bearing MRI? Please help

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Hi,

To cut a very long story short I have had chronic pain (sciatica from my left buttock and into my foot) for five years now. I have had seven flat MRI scans all of which show L5/S1 and L3/4 prolapses and DD with an anular tear but no nerve root impingement.

I have been hospitalised twice last year with foot drop and for urinary issues and have had nerve conduction tests that show damage to my sciatic nerve. I was on the maximum dose of Pregabalin and was pain free but have had to reduce my dose due to problems with working as a teacher heavily medicated and weight gain.

I am seriously considering a weigh-bearing scan as the only thing I can do to relieve the pain is to lay on my right-hand side for weeks on end which suggests to me that the disc is pushing onto the nerve when standing or sitting.

I am absolutely desperate now to prove that the disc is the problem, some consultants have said as much but without the MRI I cannont be a candidate for surgery. This is ruining my life and having such a negative impact on my family. Please give me your feedback, I will have to travel to Leeds and spend around £800 for the scan so I really could do with hearing from other people .

Many thanks,

Helen

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  • Posted

    hiya Helen , well the only thing I can say of my experience is that for over 5yrs now can only lay on my RIGHT side also and Im at my wits end in pain mostly lower back and buttocks but only if I try to walk up a slight incline will my actual buttocks really really hurt and as you say feet and legs but pain everywhere on a flat appart from buttocks ?? and been told that the doctor ( " wiil gamble his house on it that it,s Fybro."wink And said " he,s not a gambling man "winkso is sending me to see the Rhumo.and they wouldnt do my lower lumber MRI because they said I would be allergic to the second lot of dye they would have to give me ? so Im alo at a loss as to how do i get the correct MRI. sorry I cant be of more help but I do where you are coming from .good luck and hope you get the help you need  

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    • Posted

      Hi Denise, that sounds very familiar unfortunately, unless your Doctor is a Neurologist he isn't qualified to diagnose you and you need to see a specialist. I would make a fuss and get an MRI scan which will hopefully give you a diagnosis. I didn't have any dye injected for any of my scans so I don't think they routinely do that. Good luck, hope you find some answers! All the best smile

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  • Posted

    Hi Helen - I had a 'torn disc' with foot drop, sciatica - so bad, so painful I was bedridden for almost 3 years -- because traditional MRIs showed nothing. I went to possibly 20 orthopedic surgeons and developed RSD from continual nerve irritation.

    Doctors said I must be crazy because THEYcouldnt identify my problem. I was 34.

    Finally saw head of spinal surgery at major university. He performed a test called a 'discogram' which identified bad disc. I was fused, and pain gone !

    Long story short: a stand-up, weight-bearing MRI is an even better alternative than discogram at showing a problem disc - even if it looks fine. 'Internal disc disruption' is what they called it when torn thru.

    GET THE STAND-UP WEIGHT-BEARING MRI. If your disc is truly torn as mine was, fusion is the only answer. Get a good surgeon and get on with life. I am 57 now. Still have pain but NOTHING like I used to.

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    • Posted

      If you are in the UK where did you have it? When I inquired and questioned the high price I was told:

      FONAR Upright MRI Scanner. There are only two of these in the UK.

      One in London one in Leeds.

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  • Posted

    UPDATE: Well I never got round to gettin the upright MRI last year but last week after being hospitalised again with unbearable pain and my bladder not emptying I finally managed to get to London. The scan was £1100 and the total cost of travel took this to £1500. Anyway there were some differences with the flat scan, I quote:

    The lumbar region was scanned in the neutral sitting posture and standing. The axial imaging was also performed in both postures on T2 weighted.

    Degenerative discs are identified at L3/4, L4/L5 and L5/S1, posterior annular tears are seen in all these discs.

    At L5/S1 segment, a small and shallow right and left paracentral disc protrusions are noted. This does get more prominent in standing posture studies. A mild impingement of the traversing S1 nerve roots is possible to be caused by this degree of disc protrusion.

    Mild degeneration of the facet joints L4/L5 can be seen.

    Whether or not this will result in any other options I don't know yet. The disc at L5/S1 is a really thin line so I think that it's a combination of DDD and the bulge on the nerve causing my issues. My meds have been doubled including the Lyrica, with morphine and diazepam added into the mix. I have now swapped physical pain for mental anguish. I can no longer perform simple tasks like wrapping a Birthday present. I was hospitalised again with the pain and my bladder wasn't emptying, I am at my wits end with all this now, six years of pure hell fighting to get hear by the NHS and then struggling to get back to work after every episode. I don't know how to keep fighting fo my health, it is all too tempting to hole up in the bedroom.

    Please update me as to all your progress or experiences. I hope you find my update helpful. Prior to this I was categorically told that my foot drop and scaitica wasn't the bulge on the flat scan as it was too small. At least I can be pretty sure that was the case all along.

    All the best

    Helen

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    • Posted

      Was it Medserena upright scanner? my reply from them earlier this year said.

      'An Upright open scan of your Lumbar spine including Flexion and Extension will be £900. You will leave with a CD containing all your images and a report on the scan findings prepared by our Consultant Radiologist will be forwarded to your referrer within 24-48 hours. We are open from 8:30am -5:30pm 5 days/week. You will need to contact Boston Scientific for their charges for the attendance of a pacemaker technician'

      I did locally have a standing X-Ray of my spine that did not show anything new. I have had two more back consultations that got me nowhere and very rightly their letter to my GP said that I was very frustrated by my condition and lack of diagnosis:-)

      I did eventually see a specialist neurologist who ignored my back problem and instantly decided that my foot numbness was a result of CMT ignoring my earlier nerve conduction tests.. He referred me to a neuro physiotherapist who after a five month wait I have now had two appointments with. She has given me exercises to do to strengthen lower leg muscles and to try to straighten my toes out.

      My cardiology consultant commented that it is a pity that there is not such a thing as a standing MRI scanner. I told him that there is and it's about time the NHS did more for me as I have now spent nearly  £3000 on private consultations and X-Rays and scans.

      My walking has become so bad that I bought an electric wheelchair so that I can get out independently and for longer distances. The suspension on them is poor and our pavements so bad I might as well live in a third world country. I’m going to try the osteopath again as he did provide some relief. 

       

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    • Posted

      Hi Derek,

      Sorry to hear about your continuing struggles. It was a FONAR 0.6T scanner and the images weren't as good quality as the NHS flat scanners. It was more because I wanted to be scanned in two positions, sitting and standing and had to get from Scotland to London. I'm a bit concerned that the spinal consultants will reject the image quality (I asked about this in advance and no one was able to give me an answer) but I think that if it is showing when weight-bearing on a low resolution scanner surely it would be even clearer on a better machine? (providing that was also weight-bearing). I'm seeing my doctor this morning to discuss my options concerning being referred back into the system.

      I don't understand why there aren't more of these scanners or developing them. Backpain is the number one reason for sick pay in the UK, you'd think that they'd invest in this area a bit more. I was told that you can be referred through the NHS but it depends on your particular region, the old postcode lottery again.

      Anyway, if I am told there will be a long wait for an appointment with a neuro-surgeon then I will pay for another private appointment to get a diagnosis. The longer I'm off the less pay I  get so I figure that speed is pretty essential here.

      I really feel for you, I would recomend the upright MRI as it has show things that weren't showing on the flat scan; annular tears in three discs (the flat scanner only picked up on one) and a larger protrusion on L5/S1 causing nerve compression, DDD particularly bad on L5/S1 and the starting of problems with the facet joints.

      Good luck, I'll let you know how I get on in the future.

      All the best

      Helen

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    • Posted

      The other thing I meant to say was that in a test group which had sicatica and nothing showing on a flat MRI (this isn't me as my bulges are showing on the flat just no nerve impingement) they found pathology that could be treated in about half of the group. I figured that it was worth a shot but obviously you need to consider whether you think it's worth it for you. The other thing was that pain is always eased for me by laying flat and much worse sitting and standing. Anyway off to the docs!

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    • Posted

      At my last assessment with MSK I was asked if I was sure it was my scan as it looks the spine of someone in his 30's not his 80's!! I told him my upper back is fine and problem is only when weight is on legs and lower back. I also paid for a series of standing X-Rays that did not show anything. MSK would not refer me to the upright MRI scanner for patients with MRI compatible pacemakers. My GP is now trying to get me an NHS referral to the London one. If he does not succeed I will have to fork out again

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    • Posted

      Helen, It is a while since you posted and I wondered how you are getting on. My back gets worse by the day and two specialists already this year (one MSK and one private) have been of no help. The Standing MRI is still a problem because of my MRI compatible pacemaker. Boston Scientific will come to rest is but she needs either a doctor or a physiologist with her that we cannot arrange. My cardiologist is trying to use his contacts to get someone along and that seems my only hope.

      Now any walking at home is becoming difficult due to lack of feeling from my knees down.

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  • Posted

    I feel for you.  I do MRI's for a living and we absolutely will not do anyone with a Pacemaker.  As things are in my area, they must be done with the patients cardiologist on hand and anyone he deems necessary.  So that is usually at the hospital where all that can be more easily arranged.  

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