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.

    • Paul m

      That’s fine if you can afford to pay a dollar a minute for physio , or wait 6 months for the system to catch up with you , as a pensioner I can’t afford a dollar a minute for physio but guess that’s another subject

  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?

    • Paul m

      True okay after 1 or 2 weeks no x Ray that’s fine but after nearly 3 months like myself no improvement , seems to me it’s kind of a lottery in some ways

  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…

    • Steve

      It has become socialized medicine. “You will take what they give you. They will give you whatever they want.” They are not too worried about giving you quality medical care, because of the quantity of the newly insured patients. Thank Obama for that.
      There is also the value of the patient. Meaning that your care could be based on the (recent) stock prices of the health care industry. Stocks that a lot of wealthy people who were in the know, bought…just before the mandate was forced upon America ( and we see how well that has worked). Your health care experience is based upon someone else’s desire for profit.
      Fast and cheap is what you are getting.

      • Anna D


        I totally disagree with you about Obama care being the root of medicine going awry to state it bluntly.

        I have been 21 years in a medical state of ignorance of doctors and refusal to find out what is going on with me. I have been misdiagnosed incorrectly more than you can imagine. No matter how much speaking up I have done, I have been ignored and even berated terribly for saying anything. My health is awful and my life is compromised greatly. Doctors simply do not care. They are profit driven and lack all compassion.

    • Paul m

      I feel for you I have had continuous probs back for 13 weeks given exercises not helping no scan guess I may have to wait longer before I get diagnosed properly then when I know maybe then treatment may be more effective turned from very active to hardly moving adding 10 lb to my frame guess will have to wait the process

  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.

    • Paul m

      That’s terrible feel for you hope you feel better soon

  9. Steve

    So because Sam the executive had a stroke while enduring a stress test, someone with the ability to pay should not have potentially critical testing done? Um, maybe if the doctor had done some testing prior to the stress testing, the stroke may have been averted.
    1. ADMA/SDMA biomarker test.
    2. TMAO biomarker test.
    3. OmegaCheck™
    And then there is the blood testing in order to predict the likelihood of a stroke…..But you would refuse to run those tests too, I guess. It might overload the lab, or take up too much of the doctors time, and throw him off his forced 8 minute office visits.
    Lipid tests, CRP tests, etc.
    You don’t have a leg to stand on.
    I would bet that you are a strong proponent of the 8 minute (doctor-patient) office visit too. Likely touting that it frees up “wait time”. A quality doctor-patient encounter does not occur in 8 minutes (8 min.TOTAL ; 4 min. with the patient, and 4 minutes typing in the patients file), and yet that is precisely what the industry is pushing-forcing. This was announced at our doctors seminar, recently. Would you like for me to reveal more of the insider secrets? Keep pushing your agenda and I certainly will. I can because my education is paid for.

  10. Paul m

    Okay I agree in principle but after 13 weeks of anti inflammatory and physio exercises shouldn’t I be getting better with my back

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