• Sun30October 2016
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  • Sports Injuries: How An MRI Scan Can Help

    No matter how invincible you think you are, sports injuries can happen, so you need to ensure you have access to the best possible treatment plans. Or at least the ability to access the right information you need to diagnose the problem.

    Rest time for the ankle

    Rest time for the ankle

    It was almost a year ago that I started having trouble with my ankle. At first, I shrugged it off, thinking it was just muscular niggles. I’d bounce back after a few days, it was nothing to worry about and the impending Trailscape marathon I’d signed up for at the weekend would be fine as long as I took it slow. Come the marathon day it was still painful but I stood at the start line anyway. Big mistake – I had to pull out halfway because I was in agony. No ibruprofen, compression tights or even uplifting tunes could push me past the pain barriers.

    Come marathon day it was still painful but I stood at the start line anyway. Big mistake – I had to pull out halfway because I was in agony. No ibruprofen, compression tights or even uplifting tunes could push me past the pain barriers. I suffered like this for over a month. We went to Paris for a weekend just before Christmas and instead of enjoying the scenery, I was constantly complaining, trying to shift the freeze patch permanently attached to my ankle. I saw my physio who said I should go to

    I then saw my physio who said I should go to the hospital and ask them for an MRI scan, which I did, only to be offered an X-ray instead. It was the week before Christmas, I was told there was no need for an MRI as the X-ray showed up no breaks or cracks in the bones. What a great early Christmas present to receive! I was OK. Or so I thought.

    Something deep down inside told me that I should, maybe, try and have an MRI scan done anyway – just to double-check everything. So I made the necessary appointment with my Dr to ask for a referral.

    Weeks passed, then a month passed, and I still hadn’t heard anything back from the hospital. I called to enquire and was told that I would be receiving a letter in another 4 weeks to see the hospital physio, to then be referred for an MRI scan. It was now mid-January, and the pain had subsided a little but my ankle was still swelling up. I was concerned as I had the London Marathon very soon and another more physically challenging race in June.

    The process was happening, it was just happening way too slowly.

    So I managed to find a way of using private health insurance to pay for one of the many available MRI scans London

    Within two weeks, I had been able to book myself into a local private hospital, which was probably one of the best decisions I have ever made.

    Four days later, I was called by my Dr and told in no uncertain terms that I had to go to a hospital to get treatment as they had spotted a crack in my bone.

    Yes, that’s right. The MRI scan had spotted something that had not been detected by an X-ray. This is because an MRI scan delves a little deeper than an X-ray. By employing magnetic fields and radio waves, an MRI scan produces an image of all the tissues within the body, including bones, muscles, cartilage and fatty tissue. And from my research, it also sounds like an MRI scan is relatively safer than an X-ray.

    Extensive research has been carried out into whether the magnetic fields and radio waves used during MRI scans could pose a risk to the human body. No evidence has been found to suggest there’s a risk, which means MRI scans are one of the safest medical procedures currently available. NHS UK website (www.nhs.uk/conditions/MRI-scan/Pages/Introduction.aspx)

    So why wasn’t I referred for an MRI scan when I went to Archway hospital? To put it simply; cost. MRI scans are expensive and they simply followed procedure. The same day I went to the hospital to tell them the results from my private MRI scan (a stress fracture), I received a letter from another hospital to tell me that I had an appointment with a physio to discuss my ankle. This was almost 6 weeks from the date I’d asked my Dr for a referral.

    Thankfully, my private health insurance had allowed me to bypass months of waiting to find out what was wrong and also paid for a much-needed MRI scan. But for many others, this may not be the case.

    Which brings me to the cold and hard truth of the matter – if you do sport regularly, it’s worth thinking about health insurance. After all, the NHS is stretched enough, and things are not going to get any easier in the next few years post-Brexit turmoil. No matter how invincible you think you are, injuries can happen, so you need to ensure you get the best possible care or at least diagnosis.

    And if you think something is wrong, don’t take no for an answer. It can be frustrating but try and get a second opinion as it can save you a lot of bother and heartache in the long run.

     

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