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When to get an MRI for lower back pain

DavidBobbyDDavidBobby Posts: 1
edited 01/10/2015 - 8:30 PM in Lower Back Pain
My question is should I wait until I'm in a lot of pain to get an MRI or will the MRI results be effective even if I get the MRI during a time when I'm not in pain? (Please read on for more detail)...

So I have a bad lower back and have seen chiropractors before and they've recommended MRI's. My back is usually fine and I have almost no pain day-to-day. My back goes out usually once or twice a year. The last two times it went out I was playing basketball so there was a lot of jumping and the time before that it went out just bending over the sink. When it goes out I can barely walk for about 3 days, the pain is in the lower back but I feel extremely sharp pain when I try to step or walk on my left side. The pain does not go down into my leg at all but just sends sharp pain in my lower back mostly. My guess is that it is a slipped or bulging disc due to me not taking care of my body when I was younger, lots of ski jumps onto flat surfaces. I'm only 34 and would like to get some sort of answers and am hoping the MRI will help. I just don't want to spend $500 on an MRI if the results wont be helpful if I get the MRI during a period where my back feels fine. I don't engage in many physical things anymore in fear of throwing my back out and I'd like to change that and finding out exactly what is wrong is my first step.

If anyone has been through this or knows when or when not to get an MRI that would help a lot. Again, the question isn't whether or not to get an MRI but when should I get it... While it feels fine or while it is injured?



  • LizLiz Posts: 9,709


    Veritas-Health Forum Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 12,988
    are prescribed when the doctor needs to get more information regarding your condition. having pain or no pain really does not come into play after the mri is done.

    there is no one on this forum site that is medically qualified to provide you with medical answers. we provide input based on our own personal experiences. a lot of what you have written to me, points to more of a muscluar situation, torn muscle, pinched nerve etc.

    keep all of this in mind:

    welcome to spine-health

    it would be very helpful if you could provide us with more details. so many times we read about members who have different tests and they all come back negative. isolating spinal problems can almost be like the game of clue. the more clues and information you provide, the better chances in finding out what is wrong,
    here are some questions that you should answer:
    • - when did this first start?- was it the result of an accident or trauma?- what doctors have you seen? (orthopedic, neurosurgeon, spine specialist, etc)- what conservative treatments have you had? which ones?- what diagnostic tests have you had? and their results (mri, ctscan, xray, emg, etc)- what medications are you currently using? (details, dosage, frequency, etc)- has surgery been discussed as an option? (if so, what kind)- is there any nerve pain/damage associated?- what is your doctor’s action plan for treating you?

    providing answers to questions like this will give the member community here a better understanding
    of your situation and make it easier to respond.

    please take a look at our forum rules: forum rules

    please remember that no one at spine-health is a formally trained medical professional.
    everything that is posted here is based on personal experiences and perhaps additional research.
    as such, no member is permitted to provide
    • - analysis or interpretation of any diagnostic test (ie mri, ctscan, xray, etc)- medical advice of any kind- recommendations in terms of medications, treatments, exercises, etc

    what could be good for someone could spell disaster for another.
    you should also consult your doctor to better understand your condition and the do’s and don’t’s.

    --- ron dilauro, spine-health system moderator : 01/12/15 00:27
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
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  • Go to an ortho or nero surgeon that specializes in spines and listen to what they have to say. They are in the best position to recommend an MRI. I went to a Chiropractor, and he helped me. He also knew his area of specialization and did not try to be a medical doctor. That is not true of all Chiropractors. Likewise, not all MDs appreciate Chiropractors. You don't have to get in the dispute between elements of these two disciplines. You can choose to go to both. I would go to am MD that does spines and they can recommend if you should get an MRI. They may want to try more conservative treatments first. My surgeon told me that the treatment approach outside of surgery is not heavily dependent on an MRI.
  • Until you know for sure what's going on in your spine please don't allow a chiropractor to do 'adjustments', the results can be disastrous for some with structural damage. It's always better to be safe than sorry. My spine is degenerating & I've been repeatedly told "NEVER have chiropractor adjustments" by my different specialists. Even a chiropractor said the same!
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • Neurosurgeon or Ortho, they will take it from there. I'm not getting into to a debate over DCs, but if they aren't the ones who would be doing any type of surgeries or true medical procedures, stick with the MDs. Just MO of course. But smart thinking on your part.
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