Best approach to getting back pain diagnosis w/o insurance

Patient

Q: Hi, I'm a 31 year old male. No insurance. I've had chronic lower back pain since I was 14 from a skateboarding injury. I've never been to a doctor about it. I'm trying to figure out the best and most cost effective method of getting it diagnosed and treated. I've called a local back pain specialist and they charge $250 for the visit, + $100 for a drug test and from what I can tell that doesn't include any x-ray or anything. They don't do in house MRIs. I can't get much info from them without spending the money and I'm worried that I'll be spending $400 on a bottle of ibuprophen and told get some rest. I'm curious if you can make a recommendation on the best approach for someone in my situation with no insurance and limited cash. Should I call around places to try to get a cheap MRI first? Are cortisone injections expensive and is an MRI a requirement to asses if that's the best course of action? I've taken ibuprophen and tylenol occasionally and it helps with some of the aching associated with the pain but it doesn't do anything for the sharp pain in my lower back. I have some hydrocodone and it helps with the pain. The pain comes and goes so I only use around 10mg/wk on average. I am uncomfortable having it without a prescription though and would really like to be able to be honest with a doc and be treated like in an adult. I have considered shopping around general practitioners to find one that can help in that regard but then I feel like I'm sacrificing the expertise of a specialist for just any doc that won't patronize me. Any recommendations as to where to start would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

Symptoms:  Sharp lower back pain. Associated right foot pain and mid/lower back ache
Doctor

A:   This question is currently in queue and will be answered shortly by one of our doctors. In the meantime you may browse our library of answered questions by clicking here.

Related Q&A

Q: Chronic lower back pain a right shoulder stuffiness

Q: I had an MRI for some back problems but it came back with this: "Small 1.3 cm lesion in the prepontine cistern, ...

Q: Recent MRI was given to me without results. I have to wait until later in the week to get them.

Q: 23 y.o. female had lower right back pain for about 1 year following a burning pain from bending over (I thought it wa...

Q: Hello, I'm Adriana, I just received MRI results of my brain, I'm 40 yrs old, suffer from migraines, tension headaches...

 
DOCTOR ADVISORY BOARD
218

Dr. James Obaji M.D.

  • 247 Reviews
  • Family Physician
173

Dr. Suneel Sharman M.D.

  • 190 Reviews
  • Family Physician
138

Dr. Pat Golden M.D.

  • 169 Reviews
  • Cardiologist
98

Dr. Kunaal Jindal M.D.

  • 112 Reviews
  • Plastic Surgeon
CNN
BBC
MSNBC
CBS
abcNews
FoxNews