Dr refusing X-rays or scans

In my twenties I was diagnosed with slipped discs, sciatica and a well marked loss of disc spaces, slight scoliosis. For years I was constantly in out of hospital with excruciating pain in my lower back and down my left leg which I used to drag along due to severe nerve damage. I once had a scary bout of paralysis from my waist down and I was hospitalised again. The Dr that treated me told me that the paralysis was not linked to my back condition and that I needed an urgent MRI scan. My dr referred me to Neurology for an assessment which happened a year later when I had fully recovered ,which of course showed nothing. After a while and due to treatment from a wonderful physio I regained the use of my left leg and my pain levels became manageable.

About 3 years ago I then started getting horrendous pain in my right hip which was swollen and hot to the touch. I was referred for a scan ( the scan they use when ur pregnant) the Dr who was scanning me kept saying the pains is radiating from your buttocks down the front and back of both legs. I corrected him and said no it's coming from my hip joint at the side. He injected a needle with steroid n pain medication into my hip I was relaxed at first but then I was in agony as he must have hit the part where the pain was originating from, I nearly jumped off the table. After a while my hip started to settle down but the scan showed I had tendonophathy of both legs.

6 weeks ago I was in work when I started getting a pain from my neck n pins n needles down my left arm. I rang the drs for an appointment, when I described my symptoms she called an ambulance cos she thought I might have been having a heart problem, hospital confirmed it was a disc in my neck pressing on a nerve.

5 weeks ago my back went as I got out of a chair, I initially struggled into work but my back seemed to be getting more rigid each day and the pain intensified so much i was unable to walk or attend to my daily needs, such as bathing, dressing myself, luckily I have a good husband who helped me. I went to the drs who put me back on tramadol, and prescribed diazepam to try n relax my back muscles and signed me off work. As I've had no scans or X-rays for about 15 years or more I requested my dr to refer me for a scan, they refused. They said it's on record that I have a degenerative spinal disorder and suffer from disc, sciatica, and tendonophathy.

I would appreciate your view on whether an MRI scan would be beneficial or not. I think it would show if my spine has degenerated further or not, and whether there is any treatment etc that might help delay any further degeneration.

27 Replies

  • Hello

    You are where you are at this time, if you have not had a course at the Pain Clinic it may be a good idea to ask your GP to arrange this for you.

    Regards scans and Xrays, you could ask for a second opinion of another GP in your Surgery, and see what is said then. Personally the pain clinic should be seriously considered as the will suggest coping skills and may be able to suggest further treatments that may help you with these conditions


  • I did attend a back pain course at Walton hospital in my twenties; i am now 60. I had been stable for a good while, but something has kicked it off again. Don't want to go back to the bad old days, constantly in pain and in and out of hospital. I have asked 2 different drs to refer me for MRI scan; both refused.

    Physio rang me today, I'll be starting physio next week, maybe that might help. However it's not going to confirm the state my spine is in.

  • Discuss the introduction to a pain clinic. They will give advise on medications and pain management.

    Good Luck


  • Hello

    If you have been treated under the Private sector it may be that they would ask you as a private patient to have further treatments, in the private sector. although I cannot say that as fact.

    I have just been given the chance of my GP practice PPG to represent my Surgery on the CCG and I am beginning to learn how the State runs charging and it can be complicated. I just wonder could this be causing a problem when dealing with the Private Sector. Please understand this may not be the case as I am only a representative for my PPG


  • I've never had an MRI scan, only X-rays and that was many, many years ago. I'm starting physio next week so hopefully that will help. Hopefully this flare up might never happen again for a long time. I'm trying to stay as positive as I can. Thanks for your responses, appreciated.

  • I suspect you might be better off asking for a review by a spinal surgeon or spinal specialist again, rather than specifically asking for an MRI. Your GP is probably partly right in that they do know what your back is like, but a spinal surgeon would be able to do a much more detailed assessment and perhaps advise what might give you relief (which may not actually be surgery). Ask your GP to refer you so that you can get a specialist assessment of all the options, which may be different to the options that were available several years ago.

  • If you can afford it, a private consultation may be a good idea. There is a lot of research confirming that if a person can 'see' the damage and visualise their pain sources, they can take more positive control. Unfortunately, once we are labeled as "chronic" sufferers, acute resources such as scans are viewed as wasting NHS cash !

  • A difficult one. you might benefit from an mri whichinicated surgery was necessary.

  • As I said in my first post, I have had back n hip problems since my twenties when my 3 children were very young aged between 6 months and 4. My hip problem started after my last baby was born, he's 34 now.

    Many years ago I was under a well known consultant who told me in no uncertain terms to ask my Dr not to refer me to him again; as there wasn't anything he could do for me. He said my spine was too damaged to even consider surgery for a hip replacement and that I'd probably end up in a wheelchair. He said I'd just have to learn to live with the pain.

    I am now 60 years old and still fighting to keep my mobility in spite of that consultants verdict. I guess a Part of me would love to prove him wrong.

    Regarding attending a pain management course, as I've already been off work for the past 5 weeks I don't think they'd allow me the time off to attend. I don't know if it's changed but when I went in my twenties it was for around 6 weeks and it was from 9-4. Many thanks for all your responses, they are very much appreciated.

  • David, my husbandm smashe his spine 30 years ago. At the time an operation was carried our which made it worse and certainly would not be done these days. He has degenration of the spine, plus loads of other things i can never spell. 5 yrsa ago his good leg which had carried him all those years startinf causingserious pain - on top of everything thing else. Tests, scans zrays and first diagnosis was Byrcitis. Time passed and it became clear it wasn't and he needed a replacement hip. Obviously as he was only just 60 they all shock their heads and said far too young. However - the marvellous pain clinic or which h is a life long member said yes. Comsiltant is also orthopedic anethetist and in spite of his back falling to peieces he had the op in October. The moment he came round from theatre the pain had gone. Completely.

    Going back to the pain clinic. Yes they do have management courses which is what you mean but not to start with. After a referal from your GP you will be seen by a specialist pain nurse. She will go through everything, drugs, what you have wrog, treatments you've had - the whole lot. That usually takes a couple of hours. Sje can then talk to you about possible treatments, alternatives therapy like physio, acupuncture etc - cupboard ful of drugs etc. There will be advice about manageing your pain, coping with it and my soap box topic - pacing yourself. They are brilliant and think the world of out team¬

    There could be a long wait to get an appt as they are always busy but please go to them.They are the best and so knowledgable.

    Don't let past experiences cloud anything available now. Meds and treatment has come one so much in 30 years. Believe me - I married an example!

    Sorry about spelling. Hope you can understand.

    Pat x

  • Thanks for your advice Pat. I too have a degeneration of the spine disorder along with other issues. It's good to hear they did your husbands hip op, it gives me a glimmer of hope.

  • Glad you understood that bit at least! I get a bit carried away when it is something I know about and have no was of checking spelling.

    Where abouts in the UK are you? Region not house address!!

    I raelly can't speak to highly of the pain clinic and in the absence of you GP wanting to do mush they will be your answer.

    No such word as can't in my vocabulary so start pestering. Mot easy I know = expecially when you get to our agee! But not over the hill - far from it.

    When David had first xrays of hip surgeeon said nope not too bad at all. However with a lot of nagging and eventually op he had the great grace to admit he was wrong. The worn out bits had been hidden in the xray and it was far worse! He even wondered how David had put up with so much pain for so long.

    So now we have one les huge pain to look after and it really has made such a difference.

    Go for it. Pester

    Pat x

  • I'm from West Derby, Liverpool

  • You really need the pain clinic, you can insist (nicely!) that your G.P,( as he has himself pointed out to you) that you have a known back condition,that in his eyes doesn't require further scans, it's not acceptable to simply say NO then offer no alternative, the best bit about the pain clinic: They will listen. They will believe you. They are kind empathetic. They are knowledgeable. They know far more than any G.P. They know things surgeons don't. Best of all, they will ask when you last X Ray or MRI was and refer you for another. They will not treat you blindly. Or in 5 minutes which is what you G.P is trying to do. Any chance you can change your G.P I know it seems like nobody is paying any attention, we have all been there, even though we can't help directly, we will all try and support you. If you could afford it, a private appointment with a pain management Consultant would remove your Dr's negative and unhelpful attitude. I wish every G.P had to suffer there patients symptoms. I wish you luck and peace from your pain.

  • An MRI scan would be beneficial as it would eliminate that you have something serious to worry about.

    60 is a good age to start having muscle spasms in all the wrong places which in turn can lead to referred problems elsewhere in the body.

    An Alexander teacher would help you learn to have better control and better muscle coordination which in turn will lead to less pain and discomfort.

    Under the NICE guidelines you can get chiropractor treatment if you have a back problem. You will have to look up the latest guidelines and present them to your GP. McTimony chiropractic is a good chiropractic to have a look at as it is very gentle. I get this on the NHS.

    Hope this helps

  • I have been thinking of moving to a different Drs, but I'm worried I could end up with a worse one. The surgery I attend is supposed to be one of the better ones in my area. How do u go about arranging to see a pain consultant? Has anyone any idea of the likely cost? Really appreciate everyone's input, you've given me some options to look into and plenty to think about. Thanks everyone

  • So assuming someone can afford to pay fo a consultation which, in my experience, is highly unlikely - what about all the follow ups? You have to getinto the NHS pain clinic ssytem and seen by a highly qualified pain nurse

    You can't do this if you pay - and London is a very long way away! Costs to travel etc


  • Sadly many people on these forums are only in receipt of out of work disability allowances. £300 is probably nearly a month's money.

    The pain nurses are highly qualified and know as much about any of the treatment of chronic pain as the consultants. Sadly the consultants are over worked by too many GPs sending patients with accute pain to them.

    We have always had excellent pain clinics in the last 3 areas we have lived. It is like a family = nce joined you are a lifelong member. They include me in all aspects of my husband care realising I am just as important as he is.

    Maybe if we were rich and middle England we could afford to pay but we aren't.

    It is also a great pity that so many of our highly trained mdical professionals are lured away to private health insurance companie by the sign.

    No I tell a fib = nothing would induce my husband to pay forprivate medicine not after he was outsourced to the Nuffield where an unqualified surfeon gave him a spinal procedure. All because our NHS could not meet Gov targets.

    But that's my opinion too.


  • You will need a referal through your GP.

    Their main base in hospitals or may have a clinic at any local hospital or larger health centre. Consultants move round fast on roller skates.

    So first port of call - grit your teeth and see your GP and ask him to get the ball rolling.

    They are busy places so there may be a long wait but tell them you will take a cancellation - if you can


  • Hello Margaret I really feel for I too have right leg and back problems but mine was due to a car accident I was told by an orthopedic that I needed an MRI scan but I just can not go under as I am clostrophobic car insurance will not pay £750 for the new open scan that has come on the market went to my dcs yesterday was told there is a waiting list for an open scan app12/14 month so my family have clubbed together to lend me the money I rang today and I can have one on the 27th of March in Birmingham I have suffered now for 5 months trying to get better I was put on Gabapentin but it gave me terrible heart palpitations I couldn't take them mine is like a nerve pain and numbness in my foot and leg I am starting to feel really depressed now a I live on my own and am not coping well I could hardly walk yesterday sorry it's is 12/14weeks not months but I can not go back up there as I am new to this iPad my doc gave me 10 Butrans Transdernal patches but reading the side effects I am frightened to put one on until my sister comes has anyone else used these and had any effects but keep on to your docs or could you pay for an MRI I don't think they can stop you having one I think they just don't want it to come out of their budget Spoon 39

  • You're probably right, it's all about budgets now. Regarding using patches, Can't remember the brand name, but I used patches when my hip pain was at it's worse and it helped a lot. A friend of mine uses them all the time for an ongoing long term condition. You've got nothing to lose in trying them, and everything to gain if they work. Good luck

  • David has used Feentanyl patches for about 8 yrs now. Sloe releaseand chamges every 72 hrs. Brilliant. He has sensative skin so apart from placing then on a different area every time he aslo uses hydrocautizone cream before sticking them on. On 100mcg mow with very occasional extra 25 mcg but that is too much and spaces him out.

    He swears by them and certainly knows if he ever forgets to chage one.

    Pat x

  • Took me a year too get a MRI scan 6 GPs all said no

  • Hello Margaret

    I have put a direct reply to an earlier script, you may read that as replies above are long


  • I think you should change your GP

    you know your own body and the pain you have and by you having a scan your mind will be at ease.

  • I myself would say not to have one, as it can only tell them what you yourself know, due to your mobility and movement,(unless you need if for other reasons, like insurance , benefits , or legal) and you must' must, keep moving as much as is possible, but you seem to know yourself what's best for you, but it's nice to be reassured , I know how frustrating it can be when you know there is something wrong that they have missed and they dig their heels in to avoid giving you that reassurance, or for their own reasons about cost, or to avoid admitting they have got it wrong.

    Wish you well Alex

  • Thanks Alex x

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