What to Expect during MRI? And Lhermitte’s sign?

Hello All,

Had strange symptoms for years, usually attributed to Anxiety Disorder. However, changed my life dramatically and finally found mental peace. Yet symptoms didn’t go. So GP was concerned and referred me to a Neurologist, which I saw last week.

(For background, symptoms include; vertigo, tingling/buzzing in legs, feet and back, tiredness, Trigeminal Neuralgia (according to neurologist), deep ache in legs and feet, numbness in face/mouth, chest tightness/pain, reduced mobility/stiffness in shoulders and hands, other stuff too.I am 28, female, don’t smoke or drink, fit and healthy too, if not for the symptoms.)

First question: I think I have Lhermitte’s sign, but it’s more of a tickle in my back and legs when I put chin on chest, rather than pain. Could this still be it?

The neurologist has referred me for an MRI on my Brain and Spine and said he thinks I might have ‘Inflammation of the central Nervous System’. He said the MRI will last around 45 minutes.

So, second question: what can I expect during an MRI? I know there are accounts online but you can’t beat a first hand account. I wasn’t worried about claustrophobia, but now I am starting to worry a little.

Thanks in advance for answers


Re MRI, many of us haven’t had problems with claustrophobia. The reason people talk about potential claustrophobic feelings is that you are slid into a tube with a sort of cage thing around your head to keep it in the right position. It’s a very noisy process, sometimes the technicians offer music or the radio, personally I’ve tried both, but the noise of the machine just drowns out any music.

You do get a call button on the form of a rubber bulb thing, so at any point you can talk to the technicians.

I’ve actually fallen asleep in MRI tests quite a few times. The noise can be sort of mesmeric and I’ve always shut my eyes and relaxed. Get the technicians to put a wedge under your knees, it helps you to stay still. The other thing I’d suggest is warmish clothes, sometimes it’s flipping cold, so while you’re told to remove all metal (so don’t wear jeans) and you might have, to have a dye injected into a vein, so a jumper that’s easy to push above the elbow is good.

Oh and you haven’t said whether you’re female or male, but someone I know recently had an MRI wearing an underwired bar and ended up with deep burns, so a stretchy sports type bra is best.

With regard to l’Hermittes sign, yes what you’re experiencing could be it, but I’d be hesitant about giving it a name until and unless you are diagnosed with MS. It doesn’t sound too hideous, so see if you can just live with it.


Brilliant! That’s exactly the kind of info I am looking for!

Yes I am female, I might wear a wireless bra/clipless bra that day.

I have a 18 month old who keeps waking up in the night so I might have a nap in the machine then :slight_smile:

If the MRI is going to be of my brain and spine, will they go all the way down my spine?I can’t find clear info online


Hi, just on the point about Lhermitte’s sign, if it’s any help, I have it only really lightly, just a light buzzing down my spine, but not painful at all. Sounds quite similar to what you have. Hope you get the answers you want soon. Anjo

Thanks Anjo. Yes it’s like a tickle that runs down my spine. Strangest thing I have ever felt and I didn’t realise it was there until the Neurologist asked me to put my head on my chest!

Go for a pull on bra as the clips that do up a standard bra are also made of metal as are the up and down slidey things!

Generally it’s the brain and cervical spine. Which is the top third. But it could be all the way down. I actually don’t think you’ll notice which bits of you are being scanned. The machine doesn’t seem to move. Or rather as you don’t move, any movements the machine makes aren’t noticeable.

Definitely aim for a snooze. When it first starts, you’ll think ‘what the hell was that mental woman on about, how could anyone sleep through this?’ But after some time (which kind of has no meaning when you’re in the scan, you’ll probably have no understanding of how long you’re in there - they sometimes say ‘this ones two minutes long’, utterly pointless!) you’ll perhaps come to understand what I mean by mesmeric.