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Severe Pain DURING MRI?

MomofthreeboysMMomofthreeboys Posts: 73
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:31 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hi, all! I am a 31 yo homeschooling mommy of 3 boys. Haven't been on here for a bit due to my mental status (very frustrated and depressed). I am still trying to heal from a L3-L5 fusion with all the bells and whistles that i had on 1/7/2009. Well, on 4/9/09, I had an MRI and it was quite honestly the most painful test I have evr had and I have had alot of tests. I have been through many painless MRIs, I've had EMG's, discograms, everything. My MRI in April was horrid. It felt like all the nerves in my legs were being ripped out of my body. My surgeon says he has never heard of this and my online research has lead me only to 'Bioeffects of Gradient Magnetic Fields'. I really want to know if anyone else has experienced such a sensation or has any insite. From what I can tell this may be something that happens to onlt 2.6% of people, but I also have Grave's Disease which affects only 2% of people so maybe I'm just really 'lucky'. Also now the surgeon is saying my left thigh pain may be from my T12/L1 protrution!, can others review the following and give me their personal thoughts (I know we are not doctors):

There has been interval posterior fusion at the L3 through L5 vertebral body levels and fusion across the L3/4 intervertebral disc. No recurrent disc protrusions are noted at these levels. No nerve or nerve root impingment is appreciated at the fused levels.

At the T12/L1 intervertebral disc, a left paracentral disc protrusion indents the thecal sac but does not result in definite nerve or nerve root impingment.

Okay, so doesn't sound so bad, but I'm still in moderate to severe pain and everytime i go to the surgeon I leave in tears because I get so frustrated. I'm in therapy 2 land 1 water every week, seeing a shrink and a counseler. I wanted to wait for the 6-8 month mark to seek a second opinion but now I don't know. I do know i don't want another surgery. well, darn this is long and if you've made it through, thank you, thank you, thank you! I wish everyone sleep!!!!
Cyndi I)
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Comments

  • I have never heard of anyone having a MRI hurt. I'll be interested to know what is going on, if you ever find out.

    I increasingly think that there are many outcomes from surgery that surgeons seem to be unable to figure out. It's like they know how to technically perform the procedure, and beyond that, they aren't all that interested in hearing what is going on.

    I developed a new pain where I had never previously had pain within the first twelve hours after surgery. For months I would go in to see my surgeon and talk to him about this pain. He would check everything out and tell me everything looked great...that the surgery had gone perfectly, etc. My fusion is considered a success...but 16 months later, I still have that same pain and no one can figure out what is causing it. They've ruled out lots of things, but four different specialists have not been able to figure it out.

    My experience seems far more common than surgeons let on or want us to believe. It is very frustrating. My surgeon told me yesterday that things "are what they are" and that at some point I was going to have to accept that. I could keep seeking other opinions, trying different procedures, etc. but at some point I would have to accept my condition and learn to live with it. BAH!

    Can you tell I spent almost 4 hours dealing with my "team" yesterday and that I am very frustrated?? Sorry for the rant.

    Of course, you are still very early in recovery, even though it probably does not seem so to you. You still have plenty of time to heal and hopefully, get better.

    Is your pain different from what you had prior to surgery? Where in your hip does it hurt? The MRI results do not indicate anything out of the ordinary with the L-1 nerve root. There is a mild disk bulge but the report says it is not pressing on the nerve or causing nerve compression. If your pain is strong, I wouldn't think it would be coming from this bulge.

    Did you check a dermatome chart to see if the L-1 nerve refers pain to the area where you are feeling pain?
  • I had a similar experience with an X-ray. When I was 2 months post op, I was getting x-rays to verify everything was going well. When they took the pictures, both of my legs felt like they were electrocuted. I told the nurse and was quickly told that I was essentially nuts. When she took another picture, it did it again. She saw me visibly flinch when she took the x-ray. They called in technicians to check the equipment and everything was fine.

    What they found out was because of the outdoor weather conditions (cold and dry), there was an excess buildup of static electricity which can cause that sensation. It's pretty rare, but it can happen.

    Keith
    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • Hi Cyndi
    Wow that sounds scary! I had my last MRI in April and it was painful due to my existing back and neck problems (and because they did both a lumbar and cervical back to back)but nothing like you describe.I am getting the same "answers " from my surgeon,"fusion looks great....yet I am having more pain than ever,and spasms a go go.I will be seeing my pain management Dr the end of this month,he is easier to talk to than my NS.
    Have you had a discogram? As bad as they are,they do pinpoint the pain for you. And a dermatome chart can explain alot to you.I hope you were able to get some rest....take care
    How in the world do you homeschool your boys? I have one 6 yr old girl and she runs me ragged!
    Sagehen
  • I had an MRI where I could not get up afterwards - but I'm fairly sure it was because I 'froze' in position. Before my surgery, if I sat or kept myself in one position too long I would have to have help up or to get moving again. This MRI was before my surgery.

    Post-op I had one MRI, but it was about a day after my surgery, an emergency in the middle of the night and I was VERY out of it.

    I do wonder how MRI's affect us now that we have metal in our bodies. Do you have metal? You said you had all the 'bells and whistles' so I'm assuming you do...

    Is Titanium not affected by magnets? Don't they ask you on the pre-MRI form if you've got metal in you? Why do they ask if there isn't an issue with it? What if the magnetic field pulls on the hardware?
  • I had an MRI, and I had pain (of course b/c of pre-op condition), but also had both legs go numb. I think a big part of the problem was the constant vibration of the MRI. I wonder if there was "midro movement" in your hardware?
  • Wow, Cyndi, I thought I was going crazy, too. You are the first person I have heard who is going through what happened to me on May 26th. This was my first MRI and it was also of my lower spine. That MRI was 20 minutes of the most excruciating pain I have ever experienced. It felt as though lightning bolts were going through from my glutes to my foot.

    I have since had a discectemy and hoped that would stop the pain. But I found that, as the numbness in my foot and ankle decreased, the residual pain increased. Obviously, it was hiding under the numbness.

    And, as you said, here I am 10 weeks later, and I am still experiencing the same electrical shocking from my ankle down. It happens now every two to four days and lasts for two to six days. During that time the pain is so intense that I can't sleep at night. This is no way to live.

    I did talk to the head of the Imaging Dept at the hospital and he said I had experienced a rare side effect which causes the pain during the MRI. I asked why I wasn't informed of this possible side effect and I was told that it was because it was so rare. THAT is NO excuse!

    Since then I have talked to several people who experienced the pain you and I have but none have had the residual pain.

    At least I know now that I'm not crazy. Thanks for being there and writing about this. :)))

    Elizabeth
  • I had one MRI done about 25 years ago. I felt absolutely nothing during the scan, except the closed in feeling of being in the scanner :-)

    Today I went for a similar scan. The scanner was a much newer machine, not the older ones that look like an oversized doughnut. This one just looked like a big circular electromagnet underneath, and a similar one above.

    Anyhow, about 5 minutes into the first part of the scan I began to feel intense pain in the area being scanned; it only increased during the second phase of the scan. I was trying to hold as still as I could, but I could not go on with the procedure.

    I have since learned that the MRI scanners use both a strong, static, magnetic field, and also a source of microwave energy. I will ask the tech later this week if there was a possibility that the scanner was set too high for the thickness of the area that was being scanned.

  • I'm glad that someone else has experienced this, just to prove to myself that I'm not crazy. I have had MRI's in the past. But just last week i went to have two MRI's done on my neck and back. They put the face guard or whatever over my face, for whatever reason, and slid me in the tube. The noise was louder than I remember, even with hearing protection, but I ignored it and tried to relax from the 2 hour drive there. After about 5 mins I started to feel pressure in my throat, then pulling.. I chalked it up to nerves, then pulling on my hands, arms, then chest. I ignored that as well. Then I got the sensation of pulling at my back. I tried to ignore that.. At every cycle change, the pressure become worse, then turned to pain.. 10 mins into the procedure I started having serious pain.. I told the monitor person that i was having pain, with no response. Two more cycles and I felt like someone was trying to pull my back apart..Again I told the monitor that I was having pain, and no response. The next cycle was crazy.. I felt like sparks were flying off of my hands, my throat was pulling, and then I thought my kidneys were going to fly out of my sides, my legs started shaking and my back was going into spasms. I hit the emergency button. After they pulled me out i couldn't sit up.. the nurse, or whatever he was, had to help me up. I was still having back spasms and pain, but not as bad.. They told me that it was just me, that I was closterphobic, and nervous. I told them that I have had this done before,and I was a tank driver in the Military for years. So I am used to small spaces..
    I was just wondering if something else was going on. I was in Iraqi freedom. I was an engineer and had several missions blowing up bunkers. Around several buring vehicles. Is it possible that my exposure to the metal and such is causing problems in mri's now?
  • Do you have metal in your body? from the explosions?

    I don't know about exposure through inhalation... I wonder if other OEF/OIF vets have experienced similar pain in MRI.

    regardless, I HATE it when they blame pain on panic attacks, and I'm sorry that they made you feel crazy for telling them you were having severe pain. That is really lame. Especially for a former tank driver to hear he is claustrophobic. Are you being treated at the VA? I'm so sorry you experienced that, and I'm sorry for your pain.

  • Momofthreeboys said:
    Hi, all! I am a 31 yo homeschooling mommy of 3 boys. Haven't been on here for a bit due to my mental status (very frustrated and depressed). I am still trying to heal from a L3-L5 fusion with all the bells and whistles that i had on 1/7/2009. Well, on 4/9/09, I had an MRI and it was quite honestly the most painful test I have evr had and I have had alot of tests. I have been through many painless MRIs, I've had EMG's, discograms, everything. My MRI in April was horrid. It felt like all the nerves in my legs were being ripped out of my body. My surgeon says he has never heard of this and my online research has lead me only to 'Bioeffects of Gradient Magnetic Fields'. I really want to know if anyone else has experienced such a sensation or has any insite. From what I can tell this may be something that happens to onlt 2.6% of people, but I also have Grave's Disease which affects only 2% of people so maybe I'm just really 'lucky'. Also now the surgeon is saying my left thigh pain may be from my T12/L1 protrution!, can others review the following and give me their personal thoughts (I know we are not doctors):

    There has been interval posterior fusion at the L3 through L5 vertebral body levels and fusion across the L3/4 intervertebral disc. No recurrent disc protrusions are noted at these levels. No nerve or nerve root impingment is appreciated at the fused levels.

    At the T12/L1 intervertebral disc, a left paracentral disc protrusion indents the thecal sac but does not result in definite nerve or nerve root impingment.

    Okay, so doesn't sound so bad, but I'm still in moderate to severe pain and everytime i go to the surgeon I leave in tears because I get so frustrated. I'm in therapy 2 land 1 water every week, seeing a shrink and a counseler. I wanted to wait for the 6-8 month mark to seek a second opinion but now I don't know. I do know i don't want another surgery. well, darn this is long and if you've made it through, thank you, thank you, thank you! I wish everyone sleep!!!!
    Cyndi I)

    I know this post is from 09 ... but i am praying you are still active !!

    I had a fusion from T3-L4 in 2005 ... i was only 14 so I healed quick and went on with normal activity.

    I was fine until 2011, when i first started feeling major pain/ sciatica . During my first - and only pregnancy lol ! (Lil hulk jr)

    .... Ive been in chronic pain ever since and doctors refuse to perscribe medication because they feel I am too young. (Reallllly? I was on hardcore pain meds before and after my surgery, but im too young!? ... makes me sick)

    But back to the reason i am writing you.

    I was sent for an MRI two days ago, I walked in with minor pain and left damn near crying. I had a muscle spasm two minutes into the exam.... It was beyond painful... i felt like my back was on fire .

    Ive been in bed ever since.... searching for answers , but the only thing i found is this.

    Did the MRI cause any damage? Is what we experienced normal?

    I hope you are feeling better !
    M cohen
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 10,045
    the MRI tests should not cause any unrest, harm to the patient. Do some patients have problems with MRIs and walk away in pain? Well, from the originator of this post and Maria's post, it does happen.

    But I would have to believe, its not the MRI causing the pain, but something else that the MIR triggered. Many people besides being claustrophobic, have problems not being able to move and the thought of having to stay still for up to 45 minutes is nerve racking.

    I just dont know where to file this. Like I started, I cant see that the MRI is the root cause of any of these problems, but perhaps can be a catalyst for some people so that the end result will not be very comfortable.

    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Hotplate HarryHHotplate Harry Posts: 1
    edited 02/06/2015 - 2:36 AM
    Just for the record, I recently experienced pain during a cervical spine MRI. My head was inside the toroid, close to the strong magnetic fields. Almost as soon as the machine started, I felt a sharp pulsing pain, a bit like an electric shock, behind my nose. Although I knew that MRIs shouldn't hurt, I really sensed that something wasn't right, so I pushed the emergency button and the techs stopped the scan. After I tried explaining to them that I was actually feeling pain from the fields, they said that this newer machine does in fact put more RF energy into me, at least during the initial phase of the scan. He suggested keeping my hands apart, as I had been clasping them together on my chest and forming an induction loop with my arms. I don't know if this really was the cause, as it doesn't explain why I felt pain in my nose.
    Anyway, the sharp pain didn't return, but still, I continued to feel a low-level, unpleasant sensation for the duration of the scan. And I have a hunch that these strong fields actually do mess with our brains. It could just be my imagination, but I don't feel quite the same after that scan. It's hard to explain, but it's like a sort of numbness of the senses. I used to think of MRIs as safe, benign procedures, but because of this experience, I'm now suspicious that they can have some side-effects.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 10,045
    even the newest MRI machine should not cause pain.

    There could be a number of existing conditions that the patient has that might trigger some problems, but I doubt if it is the MRI machine itself.

    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • I would contact the VA regarding potential exposure to burning metals in the desert. Studies have shown chronic health issues from it!

    Keith
    Several Epidurals, L4-S1 360 ALIF, Numerous Facet Joint Injections, RFA x2
  • I had c-4, c-5 fuzed with plate and screws. I had several MRIs with no problems but the last one like to have killed me with pain! No one that I can find knows why. They say I am not supposed to hurt but I tell them I do. It it a nightmare. I am in in constant pain all the time since the surgery. I have been to 4 to 5 surgeons with no help. I just suffer and take pain meds. Someone needs to find out why the MRI hurts so bad!
  • SolebruSSolebru Posts: 1
    edited 12/15/2015 - 10:38 PM
    had mri few hours ago on my right ankle. I've had X-rays and mri before but I remember distinctly the man saying press this if you ever need to stop. Now why would I need to stop I ask myself? I thought I'll be fine man just give me the head phones and music I'll be sweet. I'm 34 by the way. anyhow, by the 3rd phase I could feel tingling and all my toes on the right foot having to twitch for unknown reasons, left foot fine. It was all the right foot I could feel compression and like something jabbing it all over in tune with that annoying beeping sound. I thought ahh whatever, 4th phase got worse and 5th phase I counted the seconds down so I could press that [edit] button. I was starting to get pain and burning in my ankle where they seemed to be concentrating. I press it and tell them but they say ohh only 1 more left, another 3 mins and it's over. So I stuck it out and explained after, all my back was burning too from the heat. They said you probably felt the waves or something because I said I felt a pulsesating feeling continuously jabbing me and pain was developing. they didn't care, in one ear out the other.. Walking to my car, toes went tingly and pain started in toes too. but ankle was fine.
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,941
    edited 12/17/2015 - 10:54 AM
    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Please click on link for helpful information!
    Sue
    Spine-Health Moderator
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,941
    Welcome to Spine-Health
    Please click on link for helpful information!
    Sue
    Spine-Health Moderator
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • PlumbTuckeredOutPlumbTuckeredOut Philadelphia, PAPosts: 325
    Two years ago I had a shoulder MRI. The nurse practitioner was positive I had "frozen shoulder". My shoulder moved so I was unsure of the "frozen" part.

    A week later I was in the MRI in a brace of sorts to keep my shoulder in position. The pain brought tears to my eyes and I moved. I heard "the voice from above" asking me not to move but I had moved my neck and alleviated the pain in my shoulder. Later by several months it was finally discovered that the pain was related to several herniated cervical disks. Having my shoulder pinned in a particular position exacerbated the pain in my neck. It wasn't directly caused by the MRI but it did cause pain!

    Previous to that by a few years I was having an MRI of my knee. Now my knee is partially "bionic". It's made up of cadaver bone and titanium. I was told the scan would take 45 minutes. As you know there is no way of telling time in there so I meditated. When I got out 90 minutes later I asked why the scan took so much longer. The tech told me I had metal in my knee. I said that it had been discussed and it was also noted on the pre-scan survey. She just said, "Oh I never read those things!" ARGH! I know, they must get so sick of reading the same old thing they get lazy!

    The extended scan for my knee wasn't painful for my knee BUT it was extremely painful for my back and my neck. I really want a tee shirt that says, "Handle with Care!"

    Sheila

    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by...... (Robert Frost)
    I still don't know if I should have taken the one that said, "Caution! Dead End" (Me)
  • I just had a similar experience during a lumbar and cervical MRI. I've been having low back pain, neck pain, and peripheral neuropathy symptoms (e.g., sciatica) that have spread to my inner thighs/outer genital area.

    The lumbar one was done first, and I was actually okay during it. I had muscle twitches in my legs and some numbness/tingling. (I think I had some muscle pain as well, but that can probably be attributed to the twitching.) I wondered if the sudden worsening of my symptoms something to do with the position I was in (with a pillow propped up under my legs), because that's not a position I'm normally in. And I was surprisingly dizzy after it was done.

    A couple minutes into the cervical MRI, the side of my neck started to hurt. And though I wouldn't have considered it severe pain, apparently it was bad enough to make me move and not even realize it. (So I ended up having to repeat that part a couple times.) Thankfully it got better after that test, but I was still feeling a little bit of pain, and the muscle twitches and slight muscle pain continued in my legs as well. My left arm also started going numb, which I thought was weird... It was a numbness I'd never experienced before (and I'm not exactly new to peripheral neuropathy, as I had carpal tunnel surgery twice when I was a child). Like my arm was actually burning - again, not severe, but still odd as I've never had any pain or other strange sensations during MRIs.

    I'm not sure if this was just coincidence or what, but I'll probably ask my orthopedic about it when he gives me the results.
  • alarmedaalarmed ConnecticutPosts: 1
    I went to NYC for a pre surgical MRI. My first MRI was scary and I had to quit in the middle, not due to claustrophobia but due to intense and unnatural pressure in my chest and body that was intense. I felt as if I was going to have a heart attack and quit the procedure.  Now I need a hip REVISION and the surgeon ordered an MRI. The second one was not bad during it but after I got out and up I began to have weakness and lack of control of my legs. When I got home the pain escalated and for almost a month now I have been in intense pain in my legs that makes it hard for me to stand and walk. I was never this way before the MRI.
    I do have arthritis in my back and hip and have history of fibromyalgia but this pain is something I never experienced before and is incapacitating. It feels like a bruise does on my knee and shin and the hip replacement is more painful than ever before so it is hard to walk and go up and down stairs. Many times I cannot sleep at night due to the pain. This stuff is dangerous and no one warned me of any side effects. They must know that some people react badly but they don't monitor the dosage, ask if you have fibromyalgia or anything. If any one wants to do something about this irresponsibility on the part of the medical  profession contact me.  I went to see a local doctor and he didn't answer any of my questions and only asked if I wanted an X-ray. He didn't acknowledge that many people as is seen on the internet have a lot of  pain or any other side effects. My memory feels much worse since the MRI. They are making tons of money on these things and it is for their convenience and I am Alarmed in CT. 
  • I have bulging discs (L3 & L5) causing spinal stenosis.  During the MRI, I was clinching really hard.  I felt like my spine was ripping apart.  Hurt pretty bad.  I was almost in tears a couple times.  I was wondering why also.  Sorry that you had to experience it but I'm glad to see that I'm not alone in it. 
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