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Relationship between weakness & pain in leg

JarileighJJarileigh Posts: 13
I need to know why my leg becomes virtually unusable w/out any pain medication! I am a former elite gymnast, and have never broken a bone (except my finger) until my left leg gave out suddenly and w/out warning and I fell on my right foot & broke it.....while getting out of bed!!!!!
I need to know the relationship between pain and nerve damage, if I am unable to walk when my pain is not under control, does that mean that I am creating more nerve damage if I cover up the pain with medication and do things I would not otherwise be capable of doing?!
My disc at L5 S1 is dessicated and on the nerve root. I have MRI's, but the last one was 05 (lost my insurance).
I have recently been having more & new symptoms, mainly tingling and weakness in my left leg & sometimes tingling up my back.
I have been completely unable to walk and recieved a pain shot and then been able to walk almost normally, so if I am now in pm and covering up the pain, am I creating more nerve damage?
I am new here, so please forgive the mistakes :) I am just really terrified of my condition worsening until I am able to have surgery!


  • Also, the pain was made MUCH worse by the PT & the Chiropractor, who tried to manipulate the dessicated disc before I had the MRI and knew that it was dessicated. Ultrasound, cold, & heat had no effect that I noticed, the only thing that helped was traction & trigger point injections of lidocaine (lasts about 5 hours) I am allergic to cortisone.
  • If you numb the pain but still keep moving, does that further damage the nerve or is the damage already done? Asked our family doctor and he just kind of talked around it.
  • Hi,

    I am new to this site but saw your post and needed to comment back to you. Your symptoms are much like mine in a lot of ways. I started with a limp and leg pain about a couple of months ago. My primary diagnosed a pinched nerve and started standard treatment including pain meds, anti inflammatory and muscle relaxants along with physical therapy. After a couple weeks, the limp and the pain were getting worse, and I also felt that PT was doing more harm than good at that point. There was no relief and I seemed to be getting worse as the days went by. I visited my primary again who ordered an MRI. One morning shortly after the MRI was done, I completely lost the use of my left leg. I could not put weight on it at all. I underwent an ESI injection in a hospital operating room. After several days, I was able to weight the leg with the assistance of a cane. The MRI was read and I have been diagnosed with multiple herniations, the most noteable at L5S1. Nerve root compression, narrowed disk space.
    I have finished the series of ESI injections, having had the third one about 10 days ago. Unfortunately, the relief I have gotten is minimal at best. My left foot across the top of the foot and into the big toe burns for much of the day. It is impossible for me to wear a shoe for any length of time. I saw my orthopedic surgeon yesterday and he ordered another MRI, this time with contrast dye. I am quite sure he will recommend surgery as the next step.
    As far as you questions on nerve damage and your symptoms in general, I have found a book that has helped me understand things that I am going through. I think the book is very well done. It is:
    Do You Really Need Back Surgery?: A Surgeon's Guide to Back and Neck Pain and How to Choose Your Treatment. ISBN-13: 978-0195327083.
    It explains all of the nerve paths and the involvement of the back and its effects on the nerves. it explains treatment options from conservative to surgery in detail. It will explain how certain nerves can regenerate after injury.
    I don't know if this has helped you much, but sometimes knowing that you are not alone with a condition is comforting. I wish you all the best in your treatment.
  • They all seem to dance around this question. I get the same response. I have read a lot on this, including in the book I mention in this thread. Most of the information I have researched seems to indicate that a lot of the nerves have a great ability to recover from damage and compression. I am dealing with nerve root compression now as I move through different treatments hoping for relief.
  • Thank you all so much for your input. I essentially have nerve compression, foraminal stenosis & my test for the sacroiliac joint came back positive. The 2 things I have never been able to understand are 1)why can I be unable to walk, go to the ER, get a pain shot & then I can walk? If I take meds & walk around, I'm still aggravating the area, I'm just dulling the pain (it still hurts & takes days to recover even with pain meds) and 2) Why try to build up muscles around a injured area if something is broken inside, it just aggravates it. When I was in PT you could clearly see the muscles in my back (at that time) so how are exercises going to make it better? My PT would tell me to walk straight, stop limping, that my limping was doing more harm than good. WHO LIMPS ON PURPOSE ? If you break your foot, you may need PT after it heals, but you don't try to exercise the muscles around the broken bone while it's broken. I think it's just a money maker. It's been nearly 10 years, my muscles have atrophied since then, & I could use some exercise (hydrotherapy) on my left leg especially, but at that time I had plenty of muscle. And 3) How can a chiropractor manipulate a area he has only seen with a X-Ray? He doesn't know if there is nerve compression by an X-Ray alone, and by manipulating the area, it's more likely to do harm than good, not to mention hurt so bad it makes you want to scream.
    Anyway, thank you all you good people for listening to this rant and your input :) Julie
  • When I lost the use of my leg it scared me to death, but as I said previously, a pain shot helped. I am allergic to cortisone & unable to take anti-inflammatories (by mouth). What are ESI injections? Do they contain cortisone? Thanks again :)
  • Hello again. An ESI is an epidural steroid injection and yes, it does contain some sort of cortisone.The injection consists of a mixture of local anesthetic (like lidocaine or bupivacaine) and the steroid medication (triamcinolone – Aristocort® or methylprednisolone – Depo-medrol®, Celestone-Soluspan).
    The injection does not shrink the disk, but works to reduce the inflammation in the nerve.
    Your question about it enabling you to walk is a good one. I am not sure how that is possible, but the same thing happened to me. As far as your comments on exercise, all I have been hearing is that I need to strengthen my core, and doing so will help my back. Right now I just want some sort of answers and relief.
    Take care
  • Yes,it does cause futher damage to the nerve.How much depends on the individual,use,and an awful lot of things.I only know this because I asked the same question of my OS a long time ago,after already having had several operations,and I wanted injections so that I could run again.

    Injections that cover up pain also cause further damage in that a person will use the arm,leg,foot,etc,in a way that they normally would not because the pain is being masked.My Orthopedic surgeon would not give me injections in my feet because of this very issue,and at that time I was a runner.
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