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new here, question about limping

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:34 AM in New Member Introductions
Hello everyone, I'm new here. I've read some of your stories and you are a brave and compassionate lot! I know my troubles aren't as bad as what some of you have to live with, but I wonder if anyone has words of wisdom for me.

I've always been a very active person, primarily a runner. My first problem with sciatica was about 17 years ago, at age 39, suffered with horrible pain for about a year and a half. Underwent multiple treatments, saw multiple specialists. At the time it was thought to be a running injury but nothing showed up on any tests, including normal MRI. Underwent chiropractic treatments, physical therapy, some kind of "experimental" surgery in the lower butt area done by a sports medicine physician, had numerous "trigger point" injections, wore a TENS unit, tried various medications. Nothing helped in the slightest and the problem got worse and worse to the point of almost complete disability. Finally I thought maybe the problem is from carrying my small child on my hip all the time; when I stopped doing that the pain gradually subsided completely and I had no problem for 17 years. By the time the sciatica cleared up, I had quit running and gradually gained quite a bit of weight.

A year and a half ago I lost the weight and started running again and doing other exercises as well, such as weight lifting and bicycling. Was in the best physical condition I've ever been. Well, that was short lived.

About 5 months ago I started noticing I was having trouble walking because I couldn't fully control my left leg. While walking, when it was the left leg's turn to swing around, it just didn't want to do it. I developed a stiff-legged limp. But I had absolutely no pain! (YET!) I went to physical therapists who said there was nothing structurally wrong and started talking about neurological diseases. Had MRI which showed L5/S1 disk herniation but on the RIGHT which made absolutely no sense since my symptoms were on the LEFT. By this time I'm starting to develop sciatic pain again (on the left). Started physical therapy, but only got worse and worse, both in terms of the inability to move the left leg properly to the point that I need a wheelchair, and with sciatica getting worse and worse.

Neurosurgeon says there is nerve compression on both sides, so I agree to surgery. During surgery, he finds some kind of bony growth (osteophyte?) on the left side, which he shaves down. Says it was compressing the sciatic nerve on the left. The disk herniations on the right were not repaired, I suppose because I am having no symptoms on the right.

I am now 10 days postop. Pain is better but definitely not gone. I still feel sciatic pain in my butt that goes down to the knee level. It's definitely better than it was pre-surgery. Walking is a little better but I still have trouble moving that left leg.

So here are my questions.

Has anybody else had trouble walking (with no pain) as the FIRST symptom? I had that symptom for about two months before developing sciatic pain.

Has anybody else had trouble walking and regained your strength in your leg so you could walk normally again?

Is it normal that I still have some sciatic pain at this point after surgery? Since the sciatic nerve was supposedly freed up on the left, shouldn't that make the pain go away?

Are these osteophytes something that will recur or grow back?

If you've read all this, thanks for listening to my story, and thanks for any thoughts you have. This is all very scary to me.

Catherine J


  • first off i just had 2 glasses of wine therefore i am not legally responsible for anything said.
    2nd you are only 10 days removed from surgery so it will take a long time before the nerves recover. in some cases nerves take well over a year to heal.i think you have just begun the healing process.
    now i will try to answer some of your ? s.
    by the way, you and i have had similar histories. i developed back pain at age 28. i was able to ski, bikeride, and rollerblade till age 59 without surgery.
    now 9 years later i am in a wheelchair and have had 6 spine surgeries.
    anyway regarding coordination and pain.. a dr told me that the spinal nerves are actually strands of different kinds of nerves. some are for muscle control. some for pain, some for sensing heat and some for sensing cold. if the pain nerve for a muscle is pressured you feel pain but still have muscle control. if the muscle control nerve is pressured you lose control but have no pain. it all depends on what strand is pressured.
    i can verify this with personal experience. my left leg has decent strength but tons of pain. my right leg has very poor strength but less pain...it also feels cold.so all these nerves come into play...
    regarding pain on various sides as it relates to the nerve pressure on the various sides...not all pain comes from pressure on the nerve roots. lots of pain can come from inside the disk itself. the fluid in the middle of the disk can leak out. it is very toxic and when in contact with tissue inside the disc can cause severe pain. depending on where the fluid leaks you can get very painful symptoms that have nothing to do with the actual disk pressing on the spinal nerves.
    many people have pressure on one side but pain on the other side.
    regarding osteophites. my knowledge there is weak so i can only guess. my guess is osteophites can grow in the future as they are really a form of arthritis. but i dont know how you would predict where they will grow.
    well...the wines wearing off so i have to sign off. i wish you a speedy recovery and many days of painfree exercise.....pete
  • Thanks Pete for your response! The info about nerve strands is very interesting ... I've never heard that before but it makes a lot of sense.

    I really suspect that there is more than one thing going on with me. The osteophyte was definitely a problem but the disk herniations could be causing symptoms too. Although I think the doc was right not to operate on those at this point. I believe the MRI classified them as "moderate" so perhaps they will heal on their own. And you are right that I have just begun the healing process and I do need to be patient.

    I'm sorry to hear of all the problems you have had and hope for the best for you. Thanks for taking the time to respond!

    Catherine J
  • herniations...he may feel that they will heal themselves over time. if you ever ask him i'd love to hear the answer....
    by the way heres an interesting site
  • herniations...he may feel that they will heal themselves over time. if you ever ask him i'd love to hear the answer....
    by the way heres an interesting site
  • hi and welcome to the forum! :H we are here to offer you support and answer what questions we can. good luck as you seek pain relief! =D> Keep us posted. :D Jenny :)
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