Terrified of scans

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hi, my back feels like it's getting worse. My thoracic area seems to be stiff and painful 24/7. I am due a Rhumetology appointment but I have a real additional problem. I am claustrophobic and terrified of the Mri scanner. I couldn't get into the tube despite trying several times. I feel like such a whimp! I am in pain most of the time. The only medication I am on is 250mg of naproxen each day. Has anyone any other ideas. I can't understand why I'm getting worse . I exercise regularly to try and loosen the back. Am I doing the wrong exercises? Any alternatives to a mri? Recommend Meds?

any advice would be gratefully accepted

cheers

pillsy

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  • Posted

    Hi Pillsy

    I'm not sure there is an alternative to the MRI. They can take blood tests for inflammatory markers but ultimately they are going to need the MRI results to diagnose and treat. My wife is terrified of flying, we often have to fly for work. Her GP has prescribed her Valium and she gets through it by taking a couple. I suggest you go to your GP to talk about your fear to see if anything similar can be given.

    In terms of the 'right' exercise. If you have AS, like me, it can be difficult to find exercises that work the right area without causing any irritation to the condition. I find flexibility work better than strength work. My best exercise for loosing by lower back is to stand against a flat wall with feet together and hands above my head. There should be a natural arch in the small of your back. You then slowly, and carefully move your back towards the wall so your spine is flat against it, then let it go, slowly. Repeat 10 times without your heels coming off the floor. It's only a small movement but works wonders for flexibility.

    Hope this helps

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  • Posted

    Most MRI facilities offer an open MRI for people who are nervous about closed spaces.  Also just closing your eyes and visualizing a lovely place might help.  Best wishes.
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  • Posted

    I do feel for you as I too was the same the first time I had an MRI...but the hospital realised and told me many patients are the same....and gave me some kind of "happy pill" before I was put inside the MRI machine...which really did help me. They also played some really soothing music for me..it was great. Regarding your medication, Naproxen is not strong enough to keep the pain under control. I suggest you ask your rheumatologist for something stronger and more effective for you. I take Tramadol when the pain is very bad and also other pain meds for nerve pain. My neurologist recommended not to excersize too much but gentle leg movements while sitting or laying down. What is the diagnosis for your condition ...is it AS or something else. Take it easy and let us help you.

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    • Posted

      Thanks Gloria, the diagnosis is not definite but all the indications is AS. The blood tests, aching, iritis etc. My rheumatologist hasn't fully committed though. In more recent months apart from the lower back stiffness I have had constant aching in the thoracic area. I also ruptured my quadriceps tendon in May and had to have a full repair. I don't know whether this was related to AS or not.

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    • Posted

      Hiya Pillsy...sounds like you try to do such a lot...how did you rupture a quad. tendon ? That must have been so painful for you.  AS is a very limiting disease...and maybe you must find out just how that affects your pain. I know with myself...I try to "get going" when I feel good...then WHAM...I'm back at the starting post and have to take three or four days to get the pain under control again....We must listen to our bodies..when they complain...take notice. One of my expressions that my daughter says I say often is..." I can do it on my own"...realistically, I can't...I'm sometimes a fool to myself....I think others may echo what I've just admitted to....I'd like you to "get to a place" where you have a little more comfort and less pain. So what I am trying to say is...life isn't the same for us with AS...it doesn't go away, we just learn to live with it...and manage the pain as best we can...try to avoid things that set it off my friend. Take it easy...Hugs...Gloria

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  • Posted

    .If you wish to find out exactly what is happening and why and how your quality of life can be improved before it gets any worse then you must trust your Dr, - tell them everything and your rheumatologist and what ever tests that need to be done, get them done:- the sooner you get answers the sooner you can improve the situation.

    Ask them to write up a care-plan for you to follow. Mine consists of physio when I require it, regular hydro as this is most pleasurable but effective way to do exercise, in a heated pool.

    Naproxen only safe a few odd times .

    Do s pain diary for your doctor.it will help them a lot!

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    • Posted

      Hi, thank you for your advice. I spoke to my doctor yesterday and he is writing to my gp to recommend an open scanner. He also said I can take 1000mg of naproxen per day. He assured me that this was a safe dosage.   A pain diary is a good idea

      do you think I'm taking too much naproxen?

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    • Posted

      I'm not sure:- if you and your doctor aren't concerned then perhaps it's OK. I was on it for a short while then started getting a stomach pain occasionally. Dr suggested I stop taking it, and it went away. I think I was prescribed pantaprozle for a while for reflux, changed my dietary habits and later stopped it as I didn't think it was necessary any more.

      Hypnotherapy might help also to decrease or alleviate your anxiety about claustrophobic situations. Years ago I use to be like that with small places, lifts, aeroplanes and heights and needles but have eventually changed my attitudes on those things over the years by weighing up pros and cons and considering statistics...I personally can't wait for my present quality of life to improve and this will depend on me doing what I need to do to make it happen. I have a care plan in place and work regularly with my Dr and physio and rheumatologist.

      ..hope all goes well.

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  • Posted

    I feel your fears about the MRI.  My claustrophobia seems to come and go.  Sometimes I don't even give it a thought and other times I almost have a panic attack thinking about it.  Here in the states you can get valium or some similar drug if you need it for the MRI but I am pretty sure that the physician that prescribed the MRI must also be the person who prescribes the valium.  The MRI facility won't typically do that here.  At least that has been my experience.  I have found that they do have better alternatives now though.  There is the open MRI but I have found that some doctors prefer that you don't use them at least for some neural imaging.  The pictures from the open MRI are not as clear as the traditional MRI.  But I have found that they also have a third alternative now.  It is similar to the traditional MRI but with more clearance at the top.  Instead of having 2-3 inches of clearance above your face you have 6-8 inches.  I believe it is specifically made for heavier people but you can request it even if you are not so heavy.  It really made a huge difference.  You don't feel like you are laying in a casket.  The MRI technician pointed this machine out to me one time and I have requested it ever since. 

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    • Posted

      Thanks for your advice. I have asked for an open scanner appointment. I will hopefully get it but it may take some time.
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  • Posted

    In addition to the Valium that the dr prescribing the MRI can prescribe, you can ask a friend to be allowed to accompany you. Have the friend keep their hand on your leg while in the MRI. It will help ground you that you can get thru it and someone is there. Good luck! You really do need to get the MRI so you can get help.
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  • Posted

    I'd be careful with any painkiller, naproxen included. I have Tramadol for when my pain is unbearable. How are you with Ibuprofen? It might be the inflammation in your body causing the problems. I struggle with my stomach personally.

    I would keep an eye on the pain killers and make sure you're taking them when you're in pain. I ended up thinking that the feelings I was getting we're the onset of pain taking over, so I would take another tranadol. It didn't occur to me that it was withdrawal. My body was soon dependant on the pain relief and coming off them was horrible. I think it's always best to try and ration pain killers if you can.

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