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New member- question about diagnosis

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
I am in my late 50s & for the last week I have been experiencing terrible sciatica. I have never had a back problem in my life and I have very quickly developed a much greater compassion for anyone that has been dealing with one for any length of time.
I have the typical pain radiating down my leg & numbness around my knee area. The worst pain is right in my butt (and I'm not referring to any of my kids!) It's excruciating to walk more than a few steps. Lying down is also painful, but I'm usually ok sitting if it's not for too long.
I went to my GP & he took the history, did leg raises, etc. and gave me Naproxen & then Valium for bedtime. I also take Tylenol in between the Naproxen. But the pain hasn't really improved much. After the exam he said he didn't think I had a herniated disc & didn't need an MRI at this time. Since I haven't improved greatly with this regimen after 4 days he now wants me to go for PT. I'm just wondering if I should go for PT without having had an MRI first? Is that common? If they don't know exactly what is causing the sciatica how can they know what kind of therapy to do? I asked the nurse if I shouldn't have an MRI first & she said unless I was having leg weakness or bladder problems it wasn't necessary yet.
Just curious if any others have gone to PT without MRI first. Thanks for any input.


  • :) hi and welcome to the forum! :H we are here to offer you support and answer what questions can. i had lots of exercise and stretching before i ever had my MRI. they are very costly. your gp is not the best person to deal with your back if it gets down to needing one.it sounds like your gp is giving you basic back care. :? go along with your doctor for now. if you notice increased pain after pt, question your therapist before you do more. your doctor should always be available for your questions. the antiimmflamatory is great to take care of any swelling you might have. there are some good nerve pain medications should your sciatica persist. my doctor does not prescribe Valium for sleep although i am sure it could be used for that. good luck and have patience. it can take time and patience to heal a back problem. Jenny :)
  • Hello, Oscar is it? Welcome to Spine Health! I am sorry to hear that you are having pain. I am dealing with the same kind of pain, but also have pain directly in my spine.

    The first option I was given, was PT. I too was concerned about doing this, without a diagnoses. I can tell you that the physical therapists will work with you, and will be gentle. They will not give you more exercises than you can handle, and will start slow. They don't want to cause you any further pain, or any further injury. Sometimes, all it takes is a few exercises directed towards your specific pain, to help the body heal, and hurt less.

    If PT doesn't help relieve the pain, then they will go in and look further, like with an MRI. After they get the MRI, and see exactly what is wrong, they can go on from there. If it comes down to getting an MRI, and they see that you have say, a herniated disk or something, then they can alter the PT with new exercises etc. Or, they may recommend other options such as surgery. Usually they will try to exhaust all other non-surgical options first.

    I am not a doctor, but I can tell you from my own personal experience, and those of other people here, that PT is usually the first step in treatment. I think your doctor has you on the right track, so don't worry.

    I hope that PT helps... make sure to follow through with all of their recommendations thoroughly, but don't over do it... and as I am sure they will tell you, don't do the exercises if it makes the pain worse.

    Good Luck, and be sure to come back and let us know how you are doing...

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  • That is the order my treatment has taken (so far). First PT, then the MRI, now more PT and a series of epidural pain shots.

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