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Back Problems Message Board


Back Problems Board Index


Pepper, it is SO good to hear a doctor ordering both an MRI and a CT Scan! I think you found a really good one!

From my experience I have learned the MRI is not the be-all end-all of imaging, as so many doctors seem to think. My severe back problems, including arthritis and a collapsed disc, were clear as day on a CT scan, and not there at all on an MRI. There was a few months delay between doing my CT Scan and an MRI because I had an IUD that had to be removed (and it was problematic.) My neurosurgeon was talking fusion, treating me with PT, doing this and that...and as soon as he saw the MRI he handed me my films, told me there was little he could do to help me because there wasn't much wrong, and sent me on my way.

I'm not exaggerating. This is exactly what happened. He told me to exercise and lose weight and said goodbye. When I looked at him in disbelief and reminded him I couldn't even do the mild PT bending exercises without major body spasms, he gave me the name of a pain management doctor.

When I got over my shock I decided to get a second opinion and this time switched to an orthopedic surgeon from a highly recommended group and with fantastic credentials. You can not just make an appointment with this doctor. You drop off your films and if he feels he can help you an appointment is set up. As my nurses now tell me, he will only see the worst cases because he is so much in demand. Within 2 weeks I had a letter with an appointment. Within 5 weeks of my appointment I had surgery.

Now this is a huge difference from the first doctor's attitude. According to the second doctor, you must look at both types of images because the MRI is great for nerve impingement and soft tissue issues but not particularly good for skeletal issues. That's where the CT Scan is superior - including imaging arthritis. In my case, I did not need a 2 level fusion because of nerve impingement, I needed it because the collapsed disc resulted in L5 rubbing on S1 and setting up so much inflammation it was as painful as nerve impingement. What's worse, it's so diffuse that you have symptoms in a variety of different places instead of focused on one nerve. There were times I swore I was falling apart physically. One day my foot would be hurting so badly I could barely walk, the next day it would be fine. One day I thought I needed a right hip replacement, the next day it was the left hip. Pelvic girdle spasms all the time, especially when first waking. I'd have to get up 2 1/2 hours before leaving for work so I could work past the early morning spasms. In the last 4 weeks before surgery I could have sworn I ruptured L4/L5, the sciatica pain was so horrible.

When he went in there, nope, I hadn't. I was all inflammation from the rubbing vertebrae. And even better - 7 weeks post op all that pain is gone. It's amazing.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, I am really really pleased this doctor has the understanding that both imaging systems are needed for a full diagnosis. I wish you luck and hope this is the start of some relief for you.

Paula
Paula, i sure am glad to have these boards! It's great finding someone or others that can relate to what your going through! :There were times I swore I was falling apart physically. One day my foot would be hurting so badly I could barely walk, the next day it would be fine. One day I thought I needed a right hip replacement, the next day it was the left hip. Pelvic girdle spasms all the time, especially when first waking. I'd have to get up 2 1/2 hours before leaving for work so I could work past the early morning spasms. In the last 4 weeks before surgery I could have sworn I ruptured L4/L5, the sciatica pain was so horrible.
I hope all is well?
monkey





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