My doctor won’t do an X-ray or scan for my back pain – why not?

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  1. Janet Dorey

    What should have been done for my 60-year-old friend, whose family doctor did not believe in burdening the health care system with unnecessary MRIs and CAT scans? Only when his back pain became unbearable was he properly investigated. By that time, multiple myeloma had destroyed several vertebra. Earlier detection may have lead to earlier diagnosis, and saved him further compression fractures.

    • Mike Poling

      There are clinical signs of myeloma. These would have to have been ignored. A clinical exam would detect it long before if it is done properly.

    • Tara

      Ditto for my mother. She was 69. Only once she was unable to breathe and went to emergency did they finally decide to do diagnostic testing and discover that she had stage 4 lung cancer. Chemo and radiation did not start until 4 weeks after diagnosis. She died exactly 5 weeks after diagnosis when a lethal overdose of opiates was accidentally given to her. The system failed her miserably.

  2. Chris

    Excellent article. As someone who works in diagnostic imaging we see this all the time.

  3. Carol

    I had shoulder pain for several weeks and my doctor did an xray and ultra sound which found arthritis and tendonitis. That gave the physiotherapist the information she needed to treat me properly. I’m certainly glad my doctor did not have the same attitude as Paul Taylor
    My friend had bad headaches and EVENTUALLY received a diagnosis of a brain tumor, but too late. He’s dead.

  4. Debbie

    I agree with the above statements. Working in the hospital, I see many unessary testing wich results in back up in the bed flow. As well as other incidences where some who really need the help are overlooked because we are creative a very insensitive system with compassion burnout!

  5. Dr. Donna Alden-Bugden, Nurse Practitioner

    Most back pain can be ruled out as harmless by asking about a serious red flags. If any red flags exist, then of course your physician or nurse practitioner will order tests. If there are no red flags like history of cancer, fevers, weight loss and new back pain in those over 50, then conditions like arthritis and tendinitis can be diagnosed by clinical exam and physio or other treatments can be started without doing an X-ray or MRI. Back pain that does not get xrayed does not mean the physician or nurse practitioner will ignore it. Follow up with the patient at 2 weeks and 6 weeks after treatment and therapy should reveal a decrease in pain or pain is gone. If pain actually is worsening, then again a physician or nurse practitioner would order more diagnostics. Just a my 2 cents from a nurse practitioner.

  6. Linda griffin

    As a nurse of more than 40 years this is dangerous & a good way to miss serious things. I understand that way to many tests r done but is it worth saving one life?

  7. Chris walsh

    my “back pain” along with multiple plea’ s for scans and treatment were called “soft muscle” issues and I was never given scans
    for near three years, this soft muscle flared up about every 5 to 6 weeks
    sometimes so bad my wife needed to dress me.
    I finally convinced my doctor to send for a scan and I have 2 herniated discs in my lumbar spine, and 2 bulging discs along with nerve root compression
    Keep telling people it’s nothing…

  8. Veronica

    I have hashimotos and has the antibodies twice along with hyperthyroidism that remitted. My eyes started to bulge when I’d wake up which isn’t consistent with Hashimotos it’s constitent with Graves.

    I asked my doctor to run a TSI antibodies test. He refused. He also wasn’t the one to diagnose me with hashimotos. I had to pay out of pocket to get proper testing. I do have medicaid…

    I went to another doctor who listened to my symptoms and guess what? Unfortunately, I was right… the test came back positive.

    He tried to insist my symptoms were mental.. now I am going to file a complaint against their license.

    However, this article is correct that an angiogram could cause stroke. An Xray however has minimal damage. Be safe rather than sorry. Further more don’t be lazy or cheap.

    It’s been seven years since I started getting sick. I’m 21 and feel 80.

    I now have other issues controlling my bladder, diagnosed parasthesia, numbness, and myalgia. I am on the verge of getting a diaper.

    All because one nincompoop and a shady specialist refused to actually check my symptoms.

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