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when should you have an MRI?

jothieljjothiel Posts: 1
Can someone let me know what they think of my journey through all this over the last few months…. My dilemma is whether to pay for a private MRI…

Compared to some of you guys I know what I have is almost nothing at all, but that's part of the reason I don't know what to do/where to go next with it.

In Feb/March I began to get some lower back pain/stiffness on waking/in the middle of the night. It went as soon as I got up and took a shower. This pain has now largely gone and is helped a lot by sleeping with a small pillow under my legs, and between my legs, and we also changed our mattress to a latex mattress. I don't know if this back pain had anything to do with the sciatica or was a separate issue, but I consider it gone now.

About 4 wks after the lower back pain had begun, I started to get some sciatica during the day. At its worst, I would not want to put my buttock down on the chair because the pain ran over my sitting bone and down into the top of my thigh. (Not lower than my thigh.) It hasn't been bad like that for a month or more. Now it is usually a dull ache, not unbearable or bad - but that leg is weaker than the other leg and can be depressed more easily and things are clearly not 100%. Often the ache seems to be there in a low-key way, which I only become aware of if I sit on something hard, for example. No kind of movement makes it better or worse, and any medical person I've seen can't bring it on by telling me to do move in certain ways.

I am also getting some night sweats occasionally, but I'm not sure if that's our new latex mattress… My husband isn't getting them though.

So here's what I need your help with...

I went to a chiropractor who said 'no problem, this will be easy to fix'. 7 sessions of manipulation and home exercises later, I was no better.

I went to an osteopath, who had a very plausible explanation - my left pelvis being somewhat fixed and not free-moving - gave me some manipulations and exercises to do. 3 sessions later (with many weeks in between doing the exercises, as he went on holiday) and I'm no better.

I went to my GP, who ran blood tests which all came back normal. He referred me. The decision-making team elsewhere at the NHS decided I needed physio and there is a 12wk wait for physio. (And I will be moving out of the area before my turn comes up!).

I am doing a yoga and a pilates class, and tomorrow I have a session of fascial stretch therapy. I thought that might help if it's piriformis syndrome. I feel like I'm just chucking stuff at a wall and hoping something will stick, having no idea what's causing it.

So my dilemma is: It doesn't look like I'm going to get an MRI on the NHS as I've been referred for physio. (My husband was referred via this route for his back pain and it didn't lead to an MRI.)

My osteopath can arrange a private MRI at the cost of £300, but he is saying he doesn't think I need one. (They give false positives, they probably won't help us, what I probably have is a mechanical and muscular issue, not something they will see on an MRI etc etc.) He's happy to refer me for it but thinks it is a waste of money.

My worry is that I want to rule out something serious.

At what point is an MRI indicated or useful and should I have one? Since we are moving abroad at the end of the month, this is just one worry I didn't want to have - rather than going through a new healthcare system I thought I'd have an MRI here and check all is ok and it's nothing serious. If this is going to be a chronic thing I have to live with, rather than a short-term thing, shouldn't I know it is not serious? Is an MRI overkill? Do you need to have severe symptoms before having an MRI?? Or should I listen to the osteopath and the NHS, who don't seem to think I need one?

I'm a bit confused. Thanks for your thoughts.


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    I am sure that you will find your time on Spine-Health very rewarding. This site is a powerful and integrated system that is dynamic and continues to grow.
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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
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