Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

X-ray and MRI look completely different, Dr. changing diagnosis

I have had chronic lower back pain for 9 years, since my first pregnancy. First diagnosed as sciatica because of the pregnancy but I still literally feel pain every day. I've come to live with stiffness and lower back movement limitations over time but throughout the years each time my back "went out" and I have gone to a doctor I have always been diagnosed as having pulled muscles, given anti-inflamitories & pain meds and sent on my way...
About a 6 weeks ago I started having more pain than usual, wrapping around my right hip & down my leg. Tried to wait it out a bit to see if it would get better, but it got progressively worse. Found a new Ortho closer to my home that, instead of telling me that I must have pulled something, immediately did an X-Ray that showed only a sliver of space left between my L5-S1, calling in DDD. He tells me that it is probably arthritic from the pain I was describing, prescribing me arthritis anti-inflamitories, PT and pain meds but also orders an MRI. Also, he explained that muscles pull to protect damaged areas, that is why I am always pulling muscles...
Now the MRI results come and it looks very different, there is more space in the L5-S1 than it looked like on the X-Ray and disc is present although thinning, instead it shows inflamed and twisted Facet Joint, telling me now that I seem to have burnt out the cartilage between the joint and bone is rubbing bone and is pinching a nerve, now diagnosing me having Facet Joint Arthritis. Coincidentally they did find a T10-T11 protrusion that is not causing me pain as of yet. Now the doc wants me to continue the arthritis anti-inflammatories, pain meds, PT but also suggests going for Nerve Block injections.
Although I am glad that I finally know what is wrong, as the symptoms common with Facet Joint Disorders definitely describe what I feel, I am a bit put off with the "maybes" and "what ifs" before this diagnosis.
So really just looking for opinions here, Should I get a second opinion or go with the nerve block injections and just see how it will work for me? I am so tired of being uncomfortable, I feel useless, exhausted from not sleeping and so limited in movement... Seriously tired of the pain!!!


  • As far as the facet arthritis I can tell you I got significant relief from facet injections. The injections are as much diagnostic as therapy. If you receive significant relief when they do the facet injections and it's confirmed on a second or 2 of 3 injections they can perform a rf ablation which can last up to a year.
    There are always maybes when it comes to your back and spine as they are very complex and lots of different areas for pain generation. The difficult thing is to accurately diagnos the cause.
    laminectomy c4/c5 2008, ACDF c4-c7 Jan 20 2014 sched
  • Since this onset of increased pain is very recent, giving the steroid injections and nerve blocks will help tremendously , one to calm down the inflammation as well as soothing the nerves.
    Xrays can only see bone-no soft tissue so his best guess from the xrays is only based on what he was able
    to see of the alignment. MRI's show soft tissue such as discs , nerve rootlet exits and ligaments and tendons. Disc dessication is something that happens to everyone as we get older and is considered a normal finding. A disc protrusion simply means that the disc is protruding a bit outside it's normal margins and this can happen simply because of your position during the MRI. As long as there isn't contact with the nerve roots or the spinal cord it is not considered to be significant.
  • Cath111CCath111 Posts: 3,702
    edited 04/24/2013 - 12:12 PM
    Welcome to SH.

    I agree with Sandi - it's not uncommon for the X-ray and MRI to show either different things or the MRI will show that more is happening than originally thought through the X-ray. I have facet issues also and they're never present on the X-ray. It sounds to me like you have a good doctor and think the injections and nerve blocks could help. They almost certainly won't make things worse.

    Keep us posted on how you get on with the treatments.
This discussion has been closed.
Sign In or Register to comment.