Just before Thanksgiving I was floored by sciatica. I started taking a lot of ibuprofen to reduce the inflammation. By Friday I was able to get off the floor and go see the doctor who prescribed prednisone to further calm the inflammation. No x-rays.
A lot of my friends suggested I get an x-ray and MRI study. Very expensive and since there is only a low 30% success rate for surgery, that would be a waste of time and money. The following week I got a script for physical therapy. So I went to "Wasatch Physical Therapy at Kimball Junction" (what a name...) on my crutches.
One big advantage of living in Utah is we have the best orthopedic practices in the country. With all the outdoor sports here, that is a focus. It's not "let's relieve the pain" it's "Let's get you back on the mountain." Which is why Tiger Woods came here for knee surgery.
Brandon immediately did an assessment and determined it was a bulging disk on the L4. He put me on a treatment plan for 3 times a week. Based on my condition he prescribed various exercises. Dani took over after a couple of weeks.
The hour routine started off with heat and electrical stimulation while laying on a roller bed. Then Lexi or Brittany would use localized ultrasound on my back. Then a lower back massage.
Early on Brittany was able to pinpoint the exact location of bulging disk through localized pressure. After the massage Dani would work with me for the rest of the hour on spinal manipulation and stretching.
After the session they would instruct me as to the different excercises I needed to do during the week based on my prognosis. In 8 weeks I went from pain and crutches to powder skiing and no pain.
So dump the MRI and get yourself to Physical Therapy. Only if you don't respond to their treatment will they send you back to the doctor for x-rays or an MRI.
Eight weeks of PT was far cheaper then 1 MRI. And wouldn't you rather be better or just have some pictures?