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Can't stand or walk. E.R.?

doug260ddoug260 Posts: 12
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:39 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
Hello. I am a grade 2-3 spondylolisthesis L5-S1. I've been putting off my 360 fusion for work reason (and I'm scared to death) I've had pain but it's been manageable as long as I don't exert myself. Last night I went to get off the couch and my knees gave out from a combination of weakness and pain. I had to crawl to the bathroom and into bed. This morning is the same, crawling. My doctor/surgeon is out of town for Thanksgiving weekend. I don't know if I should go to the E.R. because i don't know if there's anything they can do for me. Has anyone else had this and if so did you go to the hospital or just try to tough it out?


  • Are you having any other symptoms? Any increase in numbess or weakness other than what you have mentioned? With a grade 2 or 3 ( which one is it? there is a huge difference in the two) you could have done something to increase the slippage if you moved or lifted something heavy....I would suggest if there aren't any further symptoms and you aren't having difficulty using the bathroom to urinate or defecate, then try resting and using ice. If you have any difficulty with bathroom needs or notice any increase in numbness or huge spikes in pain, in combination with the bathroom difficulties, you need to go to the ER.
  • I woulod go to ER . . .you don't want to do more damage. They can give you meds to relax you and make sure you didn't do more damage.

    Good luck.
  • going to the bathroom isn't the problem, getting there is. When I try to stand up, my legs give out due to a combination of weakness and pain. No new numbness just a drastic increase in pain. I have about a 50% slippage which is between a grade 2 and grade 3
  • There really isn't a big difference between grade 2 or 3. In my case it was a 1mm difference in flexion xrays. So doc graded it grade 2/3. If it were me I would call the doctors office. Most have an answering service and they can advise you what to do. He may have left some other doctor to handle emergency's. If no answer I would go to the E.R. a sudden worsening of symptoms is something that should be checked.
  • Do you have a walker or cane? If the pain doesn't subside give your doctor's office a call and ask whomever is covering what they suggest. They may tell you to increase your pain meds for a short time or tell you to go to the ER. There isn't much the ER will do for an increase in pain, especially if you are under the care of a doctor. In fact, most ER's won't treat for pain or very minimally.
    Either way, you know your body and how much difficulty you are having.
  • I would go to the ER. You may need emergency surgery. If you are partially paralized right now it can get worse. They can run some new test (maybe a MRI or CT scan) and then can see if this is a "game changer".

    Better safe than sorry.

  • The only problem in going to the ER is that it is a holiday weekend. Some resident might decide to do emergency surgery on you, and you really don't want to do that unless you have bladder or bowel involvement that has suddenly begun. It is a holiday weekend and not the best time to have emergency anything.

    If I were you, I would lie on a firm surface, like the floor with a yoga mat under you and just take it easy until your surgeon gets back on Monday. Lie flat on your back, with a pillow or wedge under your knees to preserve the proper curve in your spine. Try using ice on your lower back. After a day or two, try alternating ice with a heating pad. If you are able to take something like celebrex, advil, motrin, etc., take it in the event there is inflammation.

    I'm guessing what happened is something along the lines of something slightly changing position while you were lying on the couch. Oh, I see you don't specify if you were lying or sitting -- well, anyway, obviously something has slightly rearranged itself and a nerve is being compressed more than it was earlier in the day. If you use ice and rest for a couple days, and take anything you can take to help with inflammation, hopefully you will be a little better by Sunday or Monday.

    You might want to call the surgeon's office and tell them what happened just to see what they recommend, and so they will know you will need to get in on Monday....I suppose if you went to the ER, they might give you steroids or a steroid injection and something to ease the pain....

    Even though you are in incredible pain and it is scary, you do not have a medical emergency unless you have bladder and/or bowel involvement or there is a big jump in neurological symptoms such as sudden foot drop.

    Please let us know what you decide to do and what is the prognosis.

  • SpineAZSpineAZ WiscPosts: 1,084
    If you go to the ER be sure it's one at a hospital your doctor is associated with so they can call his practice. I would recommend you go to the ER. Being unable to walk or stand is not a good sign and you need to have some immediate care.
    2 ACDFs, 2 PCDF, 3 LIFs; Rt TKR; Rt thumb fusion ; Lt thumb arthroplasty; Ehlers Danlos 
  • they could load you up with dilaudid and send you back home to rest. I recall one horribly painful episode when I was not able to control my pain. I went to the ER as a last resort and that's what they did for me. I came home and slept for a day and a half. I did feel a bit better after that.

    All the best to you.

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • Thanks for everyone's suggestions and advice. I decided to go to the ER and they shot me up with dilaudid and some industrial strength anti-inflammatory which seemed to do the trick. I know this is just a band-aid but this episode made me realize I gotta stop putting off the surgery and just do it. Crawling on all fours to the bathroom is pretty poor quality of life. Thanks again
  • Doug,

    I am glad you went. At least this flare was documented medically. I hope you will follow up with your surgeon sooner rather than later.

    What I have found is my flares get worse and worse (like a bad cavity). If you think this is inconvenient now- just think how inconvenient it will be if you experience permanent disabilty or nerve damage.

    Take care,


  • I'm glad you went to the ER.
    Sounds like you needed to get there.
    It also sounds like it might have been the sign you needed to go see your neuro surgeon or whichever doctor you've been working with.

    Not sure what surgery you are facing but I'm facing surgery in the very near future too. I am not crawling to the bathroom but have significant numbness and am worried about future instability.

    You have a huge support group right here for any concerns or questions or advice on what to ask your doctor.

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