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MRI scan of lumber spine came back 'normal.' Why? (Page 1)

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I am really confused. I just recieved the results from an MRI scan on my lumber spine and was told that it came back 'normal.' This is very frustrating for me as I am in consistent pain- in walking, in laying down, in sitting, etc., I am even now struggling to sleep at night and have to put cushions under my knees. I have had back problems for most of my life, and yet doctors have taken this long to send me for an MRI and physio (which only makes the problem worse) and now have just put me on some strong pain killers and sent me on my way. Can anyone tell me if there is anything in the lower back that would not show up on an MRI scan? I just want to know what is going on so that I can live a normal life Sad
Thanks, M.
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First Helper rollar64
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replied May 11th, 2011
Active User, very eHealthy
If i were you i would get a copy of the report. There may be something that could be considered not normal but the doctors might not think that it is serious so they say everything is normal. Also its not unheard of for someone with back pain to have a normal or a near normal scan. When scans do show problems with someones spine it can be difficult to tell which problems are causing the pain. Also i believe alignment problems such as scoliosis or excessive lordosis can be the cause of back pain. If you have these doctors may choose to ignore them.

There are also a number of rheumatological disorders that will not show up on an MRI until the disease in a late stage of progression, such as ankylosing spondylitis.
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replied May 12th, 2011
Thank you for your advice, I will follow this up and see my doctor again. I will also ask for a copy of the scan, that's a really good idea.
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replied May 12th, 2011
Extremely eHealthy
I'm having similar only it's in my hip and I was told that an MRI scan is the best and way of detecting any abnormalities at any point.... I've also had a dye into my hip which makes things clearer to read


Now I'm confused as you (rollar64) are saying somethings don't appear until the later stages....
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replied May 13th, 2011
Active User, very eHealthy
yes you can have a rhuematological disorder that will cause pain but will not cause degenerative disk or joint disease for a number of years so it will not show until the disorder has progressed into its later stages.

things like fractures and rupured disks should show up straight away but MRI's are not foolproof
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replied May 12th, 2011
Experienced User
Get a copy of the scan and report and get a second opinion. I have been to 3 orthopedic and 2 Neurologists who have all told me things that the others did not say. I would also seek advice from a chiropractor and try getting a few adjustments. Try 3 x a week for two weeks and see if it helps. You could also have muscles spasms that can create pain or have a deficiancy. Have a doctor run some blood work on you and check for Vitamin d or magnesium deficiancy. It wouldnt hurt. Also, try an ice pack on your back and do light stretching such as laying flat on the floor and bring your knees to your chest. Good Luck, when you find out, keep us posted so we can share our experiences with you.
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replied May 16th, 2011
Join the club mate.

I am 27 year old with a h/o thoracic back pain since i was 24. i had to give up all sports (in fact i was extreemly active playing competitive football, amateur boxing and some weight training). After 2 yrs of this pain i managaed to do an MRI which was reported as normal. The consultant told me that it was simply muscle strains and ligament problems and he prescribed me muscle relexants, manual clinical therapy, physiotherapy and voltaren but was all in vain. Then, after 3-4 months i had a second opinion from a new maltese orthopaedic surgeon specialised in the spine. He came to the conclusion that i am suffering from facet joint arthropathy that is simply arthritis of the facet joints. He told me that this is usually not noticed during MRIs. I am currently awaiting Spinal Infiltrations. From my experience, I would recommend you have a second opinion and ask regarding the possibility of having this condition.
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replied May 18th, 2011
I was back and forth to doctors and hospital for 8 years before being diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis. One test is to see whether you have a gene HLA527 - if you have it is possible it is AS. Hope its not as it is extremely painful.
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replied June 11th, 2011
Thanks for your advice everyone, and thank you Golf11 for mentioning ankylosing spondylitis to me- you are the third person that has done now and I am 99% sure that this is exactly that I have. My symptoms started in my pre-teens and it all began with knee trouble which gradually spread to my lower back, now I have it in my neck and shoulders and thighs too. I had x-rays when I was younger but they never found anything- now it makes sense because it doesn't show up until the later stages of the disease. The past month has been a total nightmare- I now get a fever and night sweats with the pain. I am at my whit's end and I really hope that the orthopaedic practitioner that I am seeing in a couple of weeks will listen to me and finally be able to give me a sound diagnoses. It would be virtually impossible for me not to have this condidition because I literally fit the entire criteria. Do you mind telling me how exactly you got diagnosed? I read online that many people who have the condition don't have the gene HLA527 and also many people who do have the gene do not have AS.
Thanks,

Michaela
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replied June 11th, 2011
Especially eHealthy
my65,

Ankylosing spondylitis is diagnosed base on clinical and radiographic criteria. There are two systems used, the Rome and the New York. One criteria for the diagnosis of AS is specific pattern of involvement of the sacroiliac joints. Decreased expansion of the chest is also a criterion. Other criteria include signs of inflammation such as back pain helped with exercise, but made worse with rest. Most of the time, the inflammatory markers, ESR and CRP, are elevated.

The HLA-B27 allotype is very common in the general population. Although a high percentage of patients with AS are HLA-B27 positive, only a very small number of persons with the allotype ever get AS. So, it is essentially useless in the diagnosis of AS.

The type of physician who would know the most about AS, and other inflammatory disorders, would be a rheumatologist. If you are concerned that you may have this disorder, you should probably see a rheumatologist.

Good luck.
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replied August 23rd, 2012
Might I have Ankylosing Spondylitis?
I have had knee pain since the age of 7. I started experiencing pain in my neck and sciatic nerve in my late 20s. I now live with sciatic type pain when I sit down or when I lie - it keeps me tossing and turning at night. It has been in my right leg for 23 years, and in my left leg for the last year or so. I also frequently wake up so stiff all over that I can hardly peel myself off the mattress. I also get a lot of aches in the sides of my ribs - more so at night, and I have small spots of pain in the front of my ribs which I am told is costochondritis. In the last eight months I have started having sharp pains in my left thigh - mostly when I sit. Although the pain is fairly constant, I get flare ups where it all gets worse, and then my heels and achilles tendons start to ache, as well as my coccyx. About a year ago I went to a rheumatologist. Based on an x-ray she said I had 3rd stage sacro-ileitis and sent me for an MRI which she said was the gold standard for AS. The MRI came back negative so she said there was nothing wrong with me and sent me away. She could not explain the discrepancy between the MRI and the x-ray but said the x-ray was wrong. She basically seemed to think I had fabricated all the pain because she could not find the cause. My ESR and CRP tests are negative, as is my blood marker for AS. So where to from here? I would be so grateful if you have any suggestions. By the way, my Dad had AS.
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replied June 14th, 2011
Active User, very eHealthy
Michaela,

Sorry to hear of your troubles.

* Have you been checked for celiac disease (gluten intolerance)?

* Have you been checked for Lyme disease? Lyme arthritis usually affects the knees.


A deficiency in key minerals like magnesium can make your symptoms worse. Blood work can test for these types of deficiencies.

What country are you living in?
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replied August 21st, 2012
mri/ ankolosing spondylitis
Thankyou for all your posts,especially Gaelic.
they have been REALLY helpful
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replied August 28th, 2012
please could anyone give me some advice...i am insulin dependant diabetic and had my 3rd child 18 months ago. during my pregnancy i was diagnosed with spd and pgp (symphasis pelvis dysfunction and pelvic girdle pain). iv been to see a rheumatologist and was told i had sciatica and then no further appointments. for almost 2 years now iv had constant 24/7 pain in my illiac (lower spine im told) bone, pelvis pain, hip pain, knee pain, my joints crack all the time. i can walk a few steps then end up in major pain that i go slower until pains too much. i get hand and foot spasms, blurred vision and cramp that feels like its in my bones. i go to physio weekly and have just had an mri scan. went for my results today and dr was pretty nasty telling me theres nothing wrong with me and it will all just go one day! wont perscribe any pain relief as says cos mri showed nothing wrong with my spine that i dont need anything. i dont know wat to do next, im crying in pain daily and just cant cope anymore. if the scan shows nothing then why am i in so much pain x
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replied August 28th, 2012
please could anyone give me some advice...i am insulin dependant diabetic and had my 3rd child 18 months ago. during my pregnancy i was diagnosed with spd and pgp (symphasis pelvis dysfunction and pelvic girdle pain). iv been to see a rheumatologist and was told i had sciatica and then no further appointments. for almost 2 years now iv had constant 24/7 pain in my illiac (lower spine im told) bone, pelvis pain, hip pain, knee pain, my joints crack all the time. i can walk a few steps then end up in major pain that i go slower until pains too much. i get hand and foot spasms, blurred vision and cramp that feels like its in my bones. i go to physio weekly and have just had an mri scan. went for my results today and dr was pretty nasty telling me theres nothing wrong with me and it will all just go one day! wont perscribe any pain relief as says cos mri showed nothing wrong with my spine that i dont need anything. i dont know wat to do next, im crying in pain daily and just cant cope anymore. if the scan shows nothing then why am i in so much pain x
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replied August 28th, 2012
Active User, very eHealthy
This is a controversial area of medicine MRIs show fractures and ruptered disks they dont show dysfunction of the joints. Sacroilliac dysfunction and dysfunction of the pelvic girdle are dissmissed by some in the medical proffession.

Back pain after pregnancy is common during childbirth a hormone is released that relaxs ligaments so the pelvic bones are more flexible some believe this can cause dysfunction of the pelvic girdle. There should be some good information on the net about this.

Another thing dont continue to see doctors who are abusive in my experience their crap doctors who are pretty hopless anyway.
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replied March 1st, 2013
UUuuummm - I found this site by sheer luck and reading through the posts and replies this has left me with my lower jaw hanging on my knees.....this has been a revelation through dealing with well meaning Doctors - Neurologists - Neurosurgeons - Pain Management clinics - Physiotherapy not to mention X/ray's - CT scans with contrast and 5 MRI's - 1 with contrast and two seperate investigations with EMG Nerve conductivity tests - Full blood tests the list seems endless all to be told at the end of all this that they can see nothing on the MRI's as to why I have pain.

MRI results include; T10/T11 High Focal point - L2/L3 Annular tear, prolapsed disc - Osteophytes. L3/L4 Herniated broad based prolapsed disc - L2 Heamangioma - L4/L5 Herniated disc - L5/S1 Lumberisation of S1 - Ankylosing Spondilitis - Loss of bladder control with Feacal incontinence - Detrusor instability...Saddle numbness - Left leg and foot numbness/weak/muscle with wasting (3") Right leg and foot numbness to upper calf area - trunk numbness ascending to level T4 - Spinal degeneration to the whole of the Lumbar/Thoracic/Cervical spine....and yet I am given the result that there is nothing on the MRI that would indicate the pain I am suffering....Meds include CoCodamol with Paracetamol and Oramorph morphine Sulphate - Pain is 24/7 at least 8 or 9 on a 1 to 10 scale and walking is non existant.

Anybody got any idea's as I am now at my lowest ebb in excruciating pain...Thank you.
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replied March 1st, 2013
Active User, very eHealthy
I dont know what kind of doctor would say that. you have a number of serious issues. your MRI does not mention any compression of the nerves but there are many other spinal conditions that can cause pain.
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replied March 2nd, 2013
Thanks rollar64 - yes there is compression - the list was written from my memory so I think it would be better to actually quote from actual previous reports as there is also bilateral canal stenosis and "mute" ankle reflexes along with reduced knee jerks - the list seems endless - I "think" they may also be investigating possible M.S. or neuropothy of some kind or another - I'm on such strong pain med things seem to be a blur at the moment - all I simply want is a final diagnosis and then I could handle things better but to be informed there is nothing that could cause the pain I experience is disconcerting as I know there must be a reason - it certainly isn't in my head.

Many thanks for your reply, I really appreciate any input.....Best regards.
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replied March 2nd, 2013
Active User, very eHealthy
Your probably not going to get a straight forward diagnois you have a number of problems that could be contibuting to your pain.

Ankolyising spondylitis is an inflamitory conditiond of the spine in which the spine becomes stiffer because of calcium deposits it is difficult to diagnose until it becomes late stage then it can clearly be seen on x-rays. Its often suspected that people with unexplained back pain have AS but not always confirmed.

I have been diagnosed with AS i was even HLA B27 positive which is a genetic marker that indicates you are prone to developing the disease. But in the end i did not have AS. But if it states that you have it on your MRI then i guess you have it.

There is also an effective treatment for it called in a drug called remicade though it does have serious side effects in that it lowers your immunity.

Lumbarization of S1 could also be a serious condition in your case. This is when the top segment of your sacrum which is the bone in the middle of your pelvis that the spine sits on has turned into a lumbar vertabra. This is a congenital deformity.

Somtimes the extra vertabra is perfectly formed and functions well with well defined channels that let the nerve branches exit the spine without compression. At other times the vertabra is irregular with rough growthes and osteopytes.

Osteophytes are irregular growth of bone on the vertabra. They may cause the joint to function improperly and compress the nerves.

Good luck post again anytime
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replied March 4th, 2013
Maybe do some research on sacroiliac joint dysfunction. It can cause low back pain, buttock pain, etc. Just a suggestion. Hope you feel better Smile
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replied March 4th, 2013
Thank you so much tskid23, I nailed the Consultant Neurosurgeon on this and he simply explained it away by saying the lumberisation happened whilst I was in the womb and it could not be the cause of any problems whatsoever...

Seems strange to me that the sharp electric shooters I get across the lower spine into both buttocks as well as the horrendous high voltage burst from the lower back right down to my left leg mid thigh (outer edge just above the knee) is something I live in daily fear - what's causing this - goodness knows because at the same time these area's are quite numb and without any feeling at all.

There doesn't seem to be an answer to any of this, perhaps the best thing is to just get on with things and ignore it all.

Thanks once again for responding - I am grateful for any input....Best Wishes.
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replied March 4th, 2013
Cheers rollar64 and thank you for the explanation - I will be checking out Remicade, it would appear the problem simply boils down to pain and it's severity for with constant chronic pain - mobility is reduced so you would think in order to increase mobility some form of adequate pain relief along with Physiotherapy would be the answer - alas - I have attended pain clinics and tried all the usual meds to no avail - Physiotherapy gave me simple stretching exercises but said there was nothing much else they could do, I still do these exercises on a daily basis.

The MRI's have all indicated multi levels of spinal problems and yet the Neurologist/s all say they cannot see any reason for pain - this is so disconcerting and takes things to a new level of concern....it just leaves you bewildered and at a total loss to understand what is happening - without a difinitive diagnosis I can only answer that there is nothing wrong with me when asked by other professional health practitioners.

One question I have never had answered properly is: What is an "High Focal Point at T10/T11" - One Doc said it's when the discs have collapsed onto each other and another Doc simply said - Oh thats nothing at all, I'm not bothered about that.

Sorry to waffle on a bit but it's therapy just to get it all off your chest so to speak.

Best Regards.
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replied March 8th, 2013
Hi Rollar64....Sorry for delay but been away for a few day's.....I found a very interesting write up with ref to "Functionality Syndromes"
This seems to hit the nail on the head so to speak as I can find no other decent rational explanation.

Best Regards...Ivan.
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