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Do You Push Through and Keep Using Your Leg??

Lala329LLala329 Posts: 283
I was wondering if those of you with leg symptoms continue to stand, walk, and use your leg even when those activities increase the leg pain?

My LBP has been ongoing for almost 3 years now, but the radicular symptoms just started this February so I'm a bit new to managing the leg symptoms. We're pretty sure the leg stuff is coming from the cysts I have sitting on the nerve roots, but I'm awaiting a new MRI to check things out...

My doctor has encouraged me to stay as active as I can in the meantime because he said it's not hurting my leg to use it since the problem is in my back. My thing is the more I use the leg the more the muscles cramp up and the more intense the pain gets. Before the onset of the leg symptoms I always walked 30-60 minutes every day to help my back, but now I'm barely managing 5 minute walks and just that causes the leg symptoms to flare. The more I stay off my leg the less it bothers me. I know with my back they put the fear of god in me that if I stop using it because it hurts it causes worse problems from deconditioning, and I don't know if the leg is the same and it's best to keep pushing through and trying to use it even though it makes it hurt more? My pelvic and leg muscles just get so tight and cramped it's hard to want to use them...

Thanks :)


  • Well many think I'm a knot-head for how I manage my pain and physical condition, so I might not be the best one to share, but here goes.

    My docs have always told me that I can do whatever I can tolerate. So ... since I'm a knot-head, I can generally tolerate a bunch! I also am an endorphin junkie, because once the endorphins kick in, I have better pain control than any medication can provide. Of course in order to kick in those endorphins it requires decent exercise intensity.

    The only thing that I have to be careful about, is my gait. I have to focus more when my legs hurt or cramp, to ensure that I don't change my gait and cause other issues to arise.

    My docs and I are all firm believers that unless there's a risk of further injury, exercise the amount that can be tolerated and stay as active as possible. We all believe that my ability to heal from surgery and injury is greatly enhanced by this philosophy.

    Of course I always check with the doc first, to make certain there's nothing that I am going to make worse.

  • I noticed if I walk more than a block I get severe muscle spasms in my foot and calf. I'm taking flexeril for the muscle cramps. Are you taking an muscle relaxants? Don't know if that would help. I hope you get your MRI soon. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • Thanks for the replies :) You guys are so helpful as always!

    C- I do tend to push through as well which is why I am nervous with managing these "new" symptoms. I also had a flare of knee pain that was making me nuts until I realized it's from my altered gait- glad to hear I'm not the only one...

    Charry- After your reply on my hamstring post a few weeks back I did ask my doctor about a muscle relaxer, so I really appreciate the suggestions. It does help, but it makes me so sleepy I tend to avoid it during the day...MRI is next week so not a long wait at all. My heart always goes out to people outside the US who have to wait months and months, and it really makes me appreciate the access to care we have in the US because even waiting weeks can feel like a long time.
  • I have actually gone through the opposite where I started with the legs and it moved up to more the back.

    Honestly I am bit like hagland in that I will push my body to go as far as it would give. Even when things were at there worse last September where after a one block walk I would almost fall to the floor in pain I still did my stretching every morning.

    I am not sure if you saw the farmgirl (name??) post but lately I have found swimming and mcKenzie to be a god send. I would really try and do the simple McKenzie stuff like the cobra and see how you feel. In the beginning I did it for 5 minutes every hour. It really got me to move but it did reach its top end in a few months in terms of relief. Lately I even stopped all weights cause I found no help and just more soreness...I am 45 now and gave up on vanity finally. I am from Brooklyn originally and I can not swim to save my life but now I go every morning and just give it me best. It is amazing how you feel and it is a good workout. I only do 30 minutes but it feels like more than an hour of walking. A bit embarrasing when the 60 year old ladies do laps around you..lol.

    Tuesday I finally have an appointment with a McKenize certified trainer. The post made me do it. I am a bit upset now that I wasted all my insurance last year for PT which did absolutely nothing. If I knew than what I know now I would have started McKenzie right away.

    This is my experience and since I do not know how a cyst compares to my two bulges I can not say really what is right but in the end my belief is that we need to stay as active as we can. We need the blood to continue to flow and the muscles to move or I actually believe they will be worse in the long run. This is just my personal belief.


    And do not forget the ice!! I would do it for 15 minutes every hour to two hours...I still pretty much live with an ice pack.
  • I have this fear that if I let the leg pain control what I do then it's just a matter of time before cane, walker or wheelchair. Now of course, there are times when that is not possible when it is just too much, but even on those days, I really truly to do what I can. Maybe, take a shorter walk or take my time going up and down the stairs at work. Whatever it takes to just keep moving.

    I did have to use a cane for a while, but got rid of it as soon as was feasible. I hope not to have to go back to it for a very long time.

    Good luck to you, I am sorry you are hurting so much.
  • As I was thinking about it last night while my family was glued to the TV watching Lost there is the mental component to the equation.

    I see in myself that as I become less and less active I also loose the mental battle and honestly die a little inside. Now even if I could walk 5 minutes more without pain I feel like I conquered the world and makes you feel that you are the right track.

    We need these little victories to keep going.

  • Hi Lala,

    Now I have Adhesive Arachnoiditis, which is a progressive disorder. It leaves me with lots of leg pain, and leg cramps from over activity. The last 6 months have been the best for me in over 3 years. I contribute this to good pain management. Because of this I am able to go more activities. Now everyone is talking about walking for long period of time, and doing special excersises. This is great, and I'm happy them. And if your capable you really should do it all.

    But the way I am. I can't physically do long walks. My legs give out. I can't do pt, because my back can be injured further. What I'm getting at is my new philosophy in life, and if you would of told me 4 yrs ago that this would be it. I would of told you that your crazy. I live now by the saying, Do what ya can, when ya can, and how ya can. See I'm not saying, just because it hurts, don't do it. No! What I'm getting at is, do it at your own pace, and do it smarter. Being active is muscle movement.

    So for me doing things this way. I can do more,I last longer, and I'm in less pain. So I feel better about myself, and I have a sense of accomplishment. To me this is what counts.

    Now I'm no medical professional. I just know what works for me, and that's all I can go by. I have found something that works great for me and muscle cramps, and I've read it in several different magazines. But like everything, one should check with their dr, and it doesn't work for everyone. I have tried muscle relaxers, but they never helped much. What I found that works is tonic water. It's the quinine in it that helps, and dr have prescribed quinine for years to help with muscle cramps. I drink 8-12oz a day, but it take about a month to really help.

    I hope I helped. And I really do understand exactly where your at. I'm right in the same boat next to you, and wondering what you should do, and where you should go. All I know is there is no simple answer to this situation you find yourself in. I wish you the best, and I hope you find something that helps you.
    Bobbi Jo
  • Hello all. I'm fairly new to SH, about a month or so. These posts were very helpful & interesting to me because I am experiencing the same things.

    I have a sciatica problem for over a year now, L5/S1, spinal stenosis, bone spurs, osteoarthritis, which is to be expected at my age, 73. I've had two epidurals and one nerve block, no major change except for about 10 days after the first one. I've always had lower back issues, but this is much worse.

    The pain is mangeable, so far. It's at it's worst after I'm standing or walking too long, but I do get out to grocery and even do a craft store and Bed & Bath occasionally. I've never been a big walker just for exercise, living in MA does limit that. I take a short walk, weather permitting, with lots of stops and squatting. I did get a cane just to lean on when I stop.

    It does make me feel I've accomplished something. Mentally that helps so much as you've all stated. Most of the pain now is in the side of my left leg and ankle. It used to be more in the calf. My left hip has started to hurt more. I've had bursitis in the left hip and a cortisone shot helps. I use ice a lot. I feel ahead of the game if I don't have too much pain until mid-day. Fortunately, my time is pretty much my own so I can rest if needed.

    I had 2 months of PT which was good since I got some good stretching exercises which I do every day. And it got me out of the house more. ;)) Now I'm getting a massage once a week for the piriformis muscle which does help.
    I'm lucky to have a good spine center and rehab very close to home. I have a wonderful rheumatologist too. My fibromyalgia is nothing compared to this.

    I see my doctor, a physiatrist on Wednesday, it's been 5 weeks since the nerve block. I've also met with a surgeon to see what my options are. One day I say I'm going for it, and then I say no way, no surgery for me. What if it makes it worse? Who knows what the recovery would be like at my age. I've never had general anesthesia either. He told me about the X-stop and decompression/laminectomy. He also recommended this site.

    I'm very interested in knowing more about the McKenzie exercises. I did see information on line. jsirabella, how was your appointment with the McKenzie trainer? Where is the best place to look for those exercises? I'm planning to ask my doctor about the exercises this week.
    By the way, I'm originally from Brooklyn too. I swam a few times a week for several years, but it got too tiring and the pool was never warm enough for me.

    And the tonic water sounds interesting too.

    Okay, I'm finished for now. Thanks for listening.

  • It is a bit early in my experience with a certified McKenzie specialist. I do believe it is helping and I do believe we need to exhaust all forms of natural healing methods before thinking about surgery. In the end even if it is not healing us, if it relieves the pain for some time than you are giving your body that much more time to heal.

    If you are still in the NYC area it is not that hard to find one. Just ask your doctor for one or google for one.

    I would give it a try...say 30 days and see how you feel.

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,856
    to realize is when enough is enough. What compounds this even further is not too many conditions are identical and we know no two people are alike.

    So what might seem like a few baby steps to some, might seem like miles to another.

    Listening to our bodies is always a key. But many times are brain waves are not really listening.

    There have been way too many times when I wanted to push through only to have caused more pain, discomfort and damage.

    When in doubt, always contact your doctor for advice.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • We live in MA now for the past 22 years not far from Boston. A quick look on Google showed two people, one about 30 minutes away, and the other in Boston where I'd rather not go. I'll ask around some more, maybe at the re-hab where I go for massages.

    I definitely agree with you about trying everything before surgery so we'll see.
    It's good to hear that the McKenzie exercises are helping you.


  • Ofcourse consult your doctor unless he already told you to seek PT. It has been my experience thus far that no doctor has ever said to me do not do PT.

    I agree with Don that sometimes pushing through can only lead to more discomfort and pain. But a good PT would never advise that.

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