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?

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