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MRI and claustrophobia

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:36 AM in New Member Introductions
Anyone out there got any tricks or had meds given and if so what?? Nervous for upcoming MRI. :SS :SS


  • i am 36 have had neck, shoulder arm problems for over 11 years. They tried to give me an mri when I was pregnant, freaked out. That was 11 years ago. Every year have a new bout with the pain, about 2 times a year gets worse and longer each time. Had Mri on shoulder, sent to pt for shoulder therapy. Was told it was all because of my jaw, had major jaw reconstructive surgery in may of this year. Starting in August all the pain is back. So now they are finally gonna look at my spine. So I get a C spine mri in the near future. Struggling with living with pain, and people around me not understanding.
  • You could maybe ask your Dr. for a calming-down pill.
    Its very common to feel the way you do and the technicians there are so attuned to it. Tell them you are stressed and nervous. They can give you earplugs, or you can ask them to talk to you the whole time.
    Really, when I've had my MRI's the staff was very helpful, whatever you needed to get through they tried to help you. Good luck.
  • I took a sedative my Dr. prescribed for a sleeping pill but has sedative effects. It's not uncommon a Dr. will order a mild sedative to relax you for the MRI. Keep your eyes closed and picture yourself in the tropics laying on the beach. I do this for the dental visits also. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • You can have a pill to relax you but you do not want to fall asleep. If you are asleep, the body may jerk or make even slight motion that can through off the MRI, blurr the images and cause them to have to start the scan over...something you do not want to do!!

    I find it best to close my eyes and practice some deep breathing exercises at the beginning...then I just settle into it and it isn't so bad. Some of the new machines have slightly wider tubes and a more open end, so they aren't so bad.

    I just went to a place that had a "positional" MRI which is a type of an open tube where you can be sitting, standing, or lying down. Interesting experience.

    Just remember that there are people in the next room who can pull you out of the tube -- so there really isn't anything to worry about. Just concentrate on the necessity for the test and how it will help to diagnose you...think pleasant thoughts and remember to keep breathing. I find it helpful to really concentrate on my breathing -- have you ever taken yoga or a lamaze class (do they still teach those for childbirth?? or am I dating myself?? @)) Anyway, just concentrate on a breath. Follow it and then back out. Breathe slowly...follow the breath...feel the temperature of it (with your mind) Is it warm or cool? Does it change when you breathe in or out? After ten good breaths you should be fairly relaxed. It helps to quiet the mind.

    Hope one of these ideas helps you to relax.

    Good luck.
  • I do exactly what Gwennie suggests - I just concentrate on my breathing and even count them until that particular test is over. Then I start all over again for the next test.

    A lot of people close their eyes, but I found that difficult (I have a wild imagination). So, I keep my eyes just ever-so-slightly open so that I can see some light, but not the tube.

    I also require a sedative to have my MRI - I had Xanax for my first one and Valium for my second one. I prefer the Valium.

    I hope your MRI goes well. Good luck.
  • Hi there,

    I can relate to your problem. I have had several MRIs both closed and open. Open is much better, but I still go half nuts at the mere thought of it.

    I have tried several tranqualizing meds. The only thing that gets me through is Valium. I take 20-30mg one hour before the test. That's a lot and most Drs. probably wont order that much, but I refuse to go with less. Even if I did it would be a waste because I couldn't hold still or stick it out. I just had one yesterday. Took 20mg and made it through, however I was very sleep deprived so I didn't need as much. The test lasted 1 hour and 15 mins. I keep my eyes closed and do a lot of praying.GOOD LUCK---GOD BLESS!
  • Is this an option for you? I have had both an actually was prescribed valium for the closed MRI. It did help with the claustrophobia. Good luck.
  • yes, a valium might help and they might be able to help you there! good luck! :D Jenny :)
  • In the UK, they give you those eye-patches that people use to go to sleep on planes etc., and they also provide you with headphones, which can play in any sort of music you choose.

    The eye-things are excellent; I don't think I could even be slid into the 'metal tube' without them. If your hospital doesn't provide them, why not buy a pair from your local chemist and use your own? The headphones aren't really necessary, but a bonus if your particular hospital has them.

    Good luck! Val
  • I got liquid valium from the imaging center -- I could have cared less about anything LOL! once I was in the machine. 25 minutes went by fast. I wasn't asleep just VERY relaxed. Of course, you have to have a driver to take you home.

    Please call imaging center where you are having your MRI and let them know you are claustraphobic. The doctor will write a script to adjust the MRI to include sedation. Well worth it to get over anxiety.

    I can tell you that since I've had the valium, it took the anxiety away about further MRI's. I've had two for my foot and did just fine.

    Take care,

  • ask your doctor for some diazepam befor you have your MRI i take 15/20 mg when i have mine and it just takes the edge off also close your eyes
  • Isn't it strange how being slid into that tube is so traumatising? I thought I would be fine with it but as they started to move me in I started to panic - if only they had told me it was open at the other end I would have been fine, once I realised that I was okay - uncomfortable but okay. I actually got quite "into" the funky music that the machine makes and made tunes in my head to the beat of the machine music. I wonder why we find it so scary?

    Definitely not looking forward to ever having another but the "close your eyes and imagine you are lying on the beach" does help. I just think they could be made more "user friendly" - ie if you went in feet first I'm sure it wouldn't feel so bad - you would know your head was only inches from the outlet.
  • The valium definitely helps. One time the tech giving me the test told me exactly how long each individual part of the test would last, three minutes, two minutes, etc. & that helped so much I ask them to do it every time now. The techs are always willing to make the experience less stressful for you. I count the seconds very slowly so the time feels like it's going by faster. Plan a reward for yourself afterwards, too. Concentrating on how delicious that bowl of ice cream will taste helps a lot. Good luck :)
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