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severe lower back pain / normal mri? how???
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severe lower back pain / normal mri? how???

hi. i have had pretty bad back pain for a very long time. a little over a year ago i made a very bad mistake and rode a roller coaster with my oldest daughter. as soon as i got off, i knew i had messed up really bad. my doctor didnt see me for it, just gave me some muscle relaxers.  they havent helped at all. i cant stand for longer than a few minutes at a time. i cant sit or lay in the same position for more than a few minutes at a time. my left hand went numb in april. i have numbness and tingling in my feet and both hands. i recently started having very severe muscle cramping in my legs. it is as though the muscles lock up tight. the back pain did really get alot worse in the last few days too. i did finally get in to a neurologist. he is checking me for ms. my pcp finally got an mri of the spine yesterday but did it without contrast. by the time i got home from the scan the office called and said it was normal. i was in tears. only the day before i was ready to go to the hospital because of the terrible pain in my back. i decided to wait for the scan to show the problem. i just knew it would. what on earth? now, i had a ct scan in january that found an ovarian cyst...that scan was done with contrast. i got the records out last night. it plainly says....mild degeneration of the spine. why would the ct see something that the mri didnt?(besides using contrast) what else could possibly cause all this awful terrible pain i am having? i mean i can barely walk. i know something is wrong....thanks.
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242516_tn?1368227505
Back pain is a common problem and I can tell you a general principle that people with symptoms like yours follow.

After many evaluations by multiple physicians, a specialist in rib & back pain is the kind of physician you're looking for. A chiropractor can't help you order an MRI. 3 different kinds of specialists that do order MRIs for this area are:
1) physical medicine and rehabilitation MDs
2) neurologists
3) neurosurgeons

These physicians typically require you to have a primary care physician, and since you belong to an HMO you should have one assigned to you. You'd need their buy-in to refer you to one of these 3 kinds of specialists. If you had a PPO, you could self-refer (go see them yourself).

The 3 different specialists have different goals, and that's why it's useful to have your own doctor evaluate you and judge which could be most helpful:
1) physical medicine and rehabilitation MDs -> procedures: physical therapy and chronic pain management e.g. trigger point injections, epidurals
2) neurologists -> medications for neuropathies
3) neurosurgeons -> surgery to fix slipped discs & nerve root impingement.

you'll have to find a doc to help you, good luck!

Enoch Choi, MD
Palo Alto Medical Foundation Urgent Care
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Avatar_n_tn
I am a 29 yr old mother of three. About 2 months ago I had this constant "charlie horse" in my lower back. It was getting worse, so I was referrd to a Spine specialist, who immediatly gave me a perscription for an MRI. Since then, for about 2 months I have been having Sciatica symptoms. It is so bad, at times, my left leg will go numb, and I have problems walking. It now is going into the right side as well. On the Left side, I have this incredible burning, stabbing , it literally feels like there is a knife in my back, there is a burning sensation, that goes all the way down my leg. On the front side of my leg it feels like the circulation is being cut off. as I said before, the stabbing is now also in my right butock. I had the MRI and the report said the structure is normal, and they do not see why I am in pain! I am SO frustrated!!! I have been having chronic pain for 2 months now and the MRI is NORMAL??? WHY?
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Avatar_f_tn
Sorry to hear of your prolonged discomfort.  Unfortunately, there are no medical doctors participating in this forum and any information provided by the members is primarily based on personal experiences of those who are having similar difficulties.
An MRI should provide significant information regarding the status of your spine and should identify whether there is any stenosis (narrowing) of the spinal canal or if there is any evidence of herniation of the intervertebral discs.
If your MRI is "normal", what has the spine specialist recommended regarding any additional testing or treatment for your symptoms?
If you have a copy of the MRI report, post the findings that are written on the report and we may be able to sort things through for you.
Sciatica and the other symptoms you are experiencing can be caused by many different  things and it may be that you need more comprehensive testing to determine your status.
Post with an update and we will try and assist you further.
Best wishes ----
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Avatar_f_tn
I have had croncic back pain for a while I have MS as well. My PCP sent me for a MrI of the spine that I ask for without contrast. It came back that it was ok bsinde something on my L5 that mimics a tumer but my doctor said it was fine. I called and asked him to have my mri re dictated and he said that won't be nessesary. So now I got to find a specialist and a new pcp. anyway my pain feel like someone took a knife and cut me rt across the lower back. I can't stand for long and I have craamping in my legs alot and my hands and legs go numb.
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1266286_tn?1270158706
Poor thing, we know how you feel!  I've been dealing with severe shoulder, cervical, lumbar, and sacral pain for nearly four years, since a cheerleading accident almost killed me.  I was thrown and landed on my jaw, facing forward, and the rest of my body flipped over top of my head and touched down in front of me, hyperextending my entire spine.  My neck should have broken, if not worse, but my rare hypermobility saved my life.  Now I am almost 19, have been in PT for over a year, and am having my second set of cervical radiofrequency ablations starting next Monday.  After my first set, I was finally able to address the low back pain that was on the back burner due to the neck pain.  I had an X-ray, MRI, and physical tests done on my low back.  The physical tests indicated, without a doubt, that I had herniated a disc, probably L-4 or -5.  The MRI report came back perfectly clear.  My physiatrist thought that perhaps the person who read the report missed something, because he looks at hundreds, if not thousands of lower back MRIs every year.  He looked for a small disc herniation, an annular tear, but there was nothing.  But, perhaps you should still ask your doctor to look at the MRI (I've learned to always ask for the films after a test - either the physical films or a CD) and see if something was missed.  In my case, it turns out that what I had suspected for months was true - I have sacroiliac dysfunction.  My SI joints are unstable, causing pain identical to that of a disc rupture - severe low back pain, sciatca (radiculopathy), etc.  I had SI injections that lasted longer than any cervical injection ever had, and have been in PT for about 2 months.  Between the serious exercise program and the muscle-energy technique my therapist used, I am finally feeling relief!  I'm not there yet, but next month I might be allowed to start riding horses again!  (I own two, and ride for the ohio state equestrian team...I miss it so much..).  Do some research on SI dysfunction!  If the MRI doesn't show anything, then maybe you're looking in the wrong place!  Here's a link to the site my doctor recommends...you can search for SI dysfunction there, as well as any other spinal issues:

http://www.spine-health.com

Hope you find relief fast!

Ellie    
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Avatar_m_tn
my daughter was grabbed violently by a large woman who dragged her 40 feet. she was grabbed with the person's thumb on the inside of my daughter's elbow (front arm) the mri and xray show no tears or injury. my daughter is in pain, her right arm makes a popping sound every time she extends her arm it is very loud sound. she cannot lift heavy items and is in pain alot. she states she can feel "something" move against her bone (i think it is her tendon) she was diagnosed intially with a severs contusion and now with Lateral Epicondylitis but it is interesting that she is diagnosed with a repeatative movement diagnosis when she does not use the arm that was pulled. her injury is in her right arm and she is left handed. she was twisted and pulled elbow and shoulder. how can she be in pain when there is nothing showing up on the mri or xray? what should we be looking for? what is wrong with her??? please advise, I can send any additional information you may need.
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Avatar_m_tn
To begin my explanation, a neurosurgeon sent me for an MRI. Sitting in his office, he showed me the scans, and explained to me what he looks for. I should note that this gentleman is a very highly regarded ex-pat American now living and practicing in Australia. His conclusion was that my spine looks healthy, and even went so far as to comment that considering my 45 years of age, it looked very healthy. The pain I get is basically in the kidney area, and extends laterally and around to the abdomen. Through various procedures, nerve blocks, and physiotherapy, we know for absolute certain that the pain is being referred along the periradicular nerve from L1/L2. The area (L1/L2) is tender to press on. But both CT and MRI show no abnormality in the area. Is it possible that it is being caused by compression that does not show up in the scans. The pain is so bad that I am on 50ug fentanyl patch. Without the patch, I can barely walk.
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Avatar_m_tn
Well, I've sought help/advice on two separate forums - and not a single reply. Wasn't this a pathetic waste of time.
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