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Scarey symptoms - weakness both legs & feet - can barely walk

Kasey443KKasey443 Posts: 7
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:43 AM in Spinal Stenosis
I am new here and looking for help and info. on what may be causing this. I have 30 years back problems which have slowly progressed past 2 years. Laminectomy at L 4-5 10 years ago for large herniation. Past few years cramping in calves at night, and weakness in lower legs making it hard to walk upstairs or stand very long, and low back pain and swelling SI area. Diagnosed with facet joint arthritis and told leg cramps were caused by low back. Epidurals helped with this in the past. MRI w/contrast one month ago showed 2 bulging disks lumbar area above where I had surgery, one is pinching a nerve. I had 2 injections 13 days ago, one for the disk, one for the arthritis. My symptoms then went from my right leg ( pinched nerve side ) to my left, and back and forth. I thought I was getting slowly better, but while standing yesterday, for about a whole 15 min. I felt both legs from my knees on down, start getting very weak. Within minutes, they were so terribly weak, I had to put my hands on the wall to walk from my kitchen to livingroom as my feet felt like they were going to go through the floor. I had foot drop in BOTH feet so bad I laid down for 2 hours trying dif. positions, nothing worked, I went to hospital and when checked, had no strength at ALL left foot to do anything, R barely any strength. I ended up with steroids for the inflammation still in my low back, meds for the arthritis, a walker, and told to see my doc first thing Mon. This weakness went on from 9 AM to when I went to sleep about midnight. I noticed last night that a certain position on one side with pillow between my legs seemed to relieve pressure and I could move my feet a little better. I am a little better this morning, some strength back, but now my left leg ( opposite side of problem ) is turned way out, low back & buttock pain R side. Does anybody know what would do this? Is this disk herniation or stenosis or what? Ty for any info.


  • Thankfully I have never experienced anything like you describe. I'm sure it was a frightening experience for you. What did the doctors at the emergency room think was going on, or did they not venture a possible explanation?

    I don't really have any suggestions for you, but wanted to acknowledge your post. It sounds like, for whatever reason, a nerve was traumatized during the procedure and responded by temporarily shutting down.

    I have leg pain that changes quite a bit. Usually it is in the right leg, but on occasion it is in my left, and rarely, in both at the same time. I do not have weakness most of the time, but occasionally I will have a leg give way and buckle underneath me as I am walking. My problems come from some instability in the L5-S1 region. The nerve gets more or less compression depending on whether there has been some movement in the vertebra. When it slides, it causes the foramina to almost completely close up, which makes the nerve much more compressed than usual.

    Generally speaking, the more nerve compression, the worse the symptoms. Weakness and numbness occur when the nerve is most compressed. When you have a calf that hurts, nerve compression is also involved, just not to the extent it is when there is a total failure as you experienced.

    Also, remember there are two types of nerve signals being relayed to the brain -- one sends the impulses for sensation and the other for movement.

    What you experienced could be caused by a disc problem or by central canal or foraminal stenosis...those would probably be the most common causes, but I'm sure there are other issues too that could cause these symptoms. You could also have spondylolisthesis, which is usually confirmed by a flexion/extension X-Ray. (That's what causes my slippage which results in nerve compression.)

    I hope your doctor will be able to figure out what is going on. Please let us know what you learn.

  • Thankyou so much for replying. You are the only one to reply to a message and I have posted this in numerous places. The ER doc is sure it's compression of some kind in my lumbar, which is what I have been dealing with for years, then the leg weakness occasionally, and the cramps in my calves at night. I also wondered if the injection caused it, yet it was 12 days before this happened, that I had them. Can it take that long to have that affect? I have sensation in both legs and feet, but my feet are very cold. I am going to doc tomorrow to insist on seeing a neuro. From what I have read, I am going to be looking at surgery. I will not have any more injections, that's for sure. I will keep u updated. I go back tomorrow. Thankyou!
  • Hello,I cant believe i found someone with my exhact symptons,i have all that you have but drs see nothing to fix,i can barley walk now.did you find out what was your problem?? Rick ncpa
  • Hi, the doctors never found out what the cause was. I spent time in a wheelchair and using a walker. It took about 2 or 3 months for me to be able to walk again.
    I very slowly got the use of my lower legs back, but I had got to mayo clinic and had numerous MRI's done and tests, only to be told they couldn't find a reason.
    In the meantime, through alot of surfing the internet, I believe they were checking me for MS, as I had many people ask me if I had been tested for it, and this was the only thing that kept popping up when I put my symptoms in.
    I read up extensively on it, and found out these symptoms can come on suddenly, only to go away slowly, and a person not have an episode again for years. I also found out many things mimic the symptoms of it, so that may not be it at all. I did have injections into my back 12 days before these symptoms came on, and can cause a delayed rare reaction.
    The only way for it to be diagnosed, is to have another episode and the docs to find evidence in an MRI.
    I haven't had another one thankfully, but it's always in the back of my mind.
    The frustrating part is, when they find no reason for it, you are left to the waiting and searching game.
    It's been 2 years since that happened. I hope you improve like I did, but I know even then, we both need answers.
    What tests did the docs do on you? Did your symptoms come on suddenly, both sides the same? Please write back and let me know how you are doing. Kasey
  • I have experienced the same thing both the leg cramps & no strength in the legs. The cramps come & go but I found I could deal with them swiftly by taking over- the -counter medicine for cramps. A quinone based tablet was the best.

    Muscle weakness in the legs ..I have had three episodes but the weakness had disappeared by the morning.

    I have been told that both are due to nerve compression & this usually arises from inflamation.So I keep on top of that too.

    My surgeon has told me that exercise is vital as it gets the blood pumping & flushes toxins out of the system as well as bringing in oxygen rich blood.He said it was quite simple ..More exercise less pain.

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