Discussions By Condition: Medical Stories

Leg, foot and back weakness

Posted In: Medical Stories 2 Replies
  • Posted By: josepescado
  • May 12, 2007
  • 06:16 PM

About a year ago I noticed the development of walking problems that involved lack of coordination or my left foot and weakness in my thigh muscles when climbing stairs. Prior to that I had experienced some back pain and stiffness, but nothing severe and debilitating. I had also begun experiencing leg and foot cramps.

Since last fall the condition has worsened. I can barely climb stairs without the use of a railing because my thighs are so weak. It is mostly my left thigh, but both are affected. I cannot walk more than a few feet before I begin experiencing lack of control of my lower left leg and foot.

In the past six months I have seen a couple of neurologists and a couple of orthopedic surgeons. I have also had an MRI and EMG. The diagnosis is that I suffer from L5 radiculopathy. The EMG doctor said that it was a 'textbook case' of nerve blockage in the lumbar L5 disk.

The retired orthopediac surgeon I was seeing first recommended a cortesone shot in a bulging disk area that he believed was causing my problem. The shot did not improve my condition, so the doctor next recommended diskectomy surgury and sent me to a young specialist.

I live in Boston and this practicing surgeon I saw literally wrote the book on noninvasive back surgery. He examined my MRI and refused to operate, explaining that there was no indication of any severe disk problem that warrented the risk of operating.

I have gone through a month of PT, tried multiple treatments from three different acupuncturists, some massage therapy, and a couple of sessions with a chiropractor on his decompression machine, but none of it has changed my condition at all.

The remarkable thing is that I am not in pain. But my life is severely hampered by my lack of mobility, coordination, and leg strength.

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2 Replies:

  • It may not be apparent on a recumbant MRI. Get a weight bearing MRI and take another look. It's worth the money. The neuro should have been able to test L5 to see if there any defecits in motor strength. Was there? Doesn't sound like it's only radiculopathy from L5 herniated disc to me either.How much herniation? L5 disc probably wouldn't cause these problems since the Sciatic nerve has to transverse through many areas where it could be comprimised. After seeing that many specialists you should have better answers than what you got. Don't always trust the view of one Doc even if he wrote the book: ego precedes many surgeons. Get some 2nd opinions.If no other therapy has worked consider spinal decompression. If it's herniation and it's stable then decompression done right should show improvement. It's not real complicated it's a jelly donut squashing out on a nerve...suck the jelly back in and see what happens. There are MANY alternatives now including outpatient surgery with laproscopic techniques. Get some other opinions if you can afford it.
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
  • I agree w/ the previous comment - GET ANOTHER DOCTOR & if it happens again, get another one!Personally, my entire spine (C, T, L Spine) is an inoperable mess (for several reasons, including a rare disease that prevents healing) - if your disc isn't degenerative, there is no reason why they can't do the surgery (unless they're not telling you something) - which usually is the case. I have been through 20+ specialists myself & despite my rare disease and my degenerative spine disease (= pretty much everything in there is deteriorating, including a section collapsing), I am still not ready to give up trying.I would highly recommend getting a copy of your MRI + the MRI REPORT from the hospital (not doctor) that it was done at & read it!. It's the law that entitles you to your own medical records - hospital, doctor, whoever. Use it as a B.S. meter for the next specialist you see. Learn about your spine/ know your stuff & question when you don't get a straight answer. Boston has a ton of great spine specialists & I would recommend asking around. Do not let just any spine dr. touch you, as some will do more damage than good - word of mouth will steer you in a better direction.Other note - Chiropractor = bad bad stuff, especially w/ the spine - they too can do a lot more damage than good. Find another pain management doctor - those needles do more than just aim at the pain (which may help reduce swelling & compression on any spinal nerves = your numbness/ weakness/ etc)!!! The only way to get anywhere is to be proactive - don't just take the word of 1 guy w/out any answers or solutions!
    Anonymous 42,789 Replies Flag this Response
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