Welcome, Friend!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Veritas-Health LLC has recently released patient forums to our Arthritis-Health web site.

Please visit http://www.arthritis-health.com/forum

There are several patient story videos on Spine-Health that talk about Arthritis. Search on Patient stories
Protect anonymity
We strongly suggest that members do not include their email addresses. Once that is published , your email address is available to anyone on the internet , including hackers.

All discussions and comments that contain an external URL will be automatically moved to the spam queue. No external URL pointing to a medical web site is permitted. Forum rules also indicate that you need prior moderator approval. If you are going to post an external URL, contact one of the moderators to get their approval.
Attention New Members
Your initial discussion or comment automatically is sent to a moderator's approval queue before it can be published.
There are no medical professionals on this forum side of the site. Therefore, no one is capable or permitted to provide any type of medical advice.
This includes any analysis, interpretation, or advice based on any diagnostic test

Determining Muscle Weakness

Does anyone have any suggestions for self-monitoring tests on muscle weakness due to a compressed nerve? (And if there's already a forum on this topic, my apologies for reposting.)

A little back story is probably in order. I had a massive L4-L5 herniation in 2011 (one of the largest my neurosurgeon in Baltimore had ever seen), and, unfortunately, I was in the 10% of people who needed surgery to correct the problem (I had consultations with 2 neurosurgeons, 2 neurologists, 1 physical therapist, and 1 chiropractor--all agreed that surgery was required). My left leg had gone largely numb below the knee, and I had screaming sciatica pain going down my right leg--in other words, the nerve compression was so severe that my peripheral neuropathy was bilateral. In spite of that, I had no problems walking, but my left calf and foot muscles had started to weaken. I had an L4-L5 microdiscectomy on January 4, 2012, and although the numbness never receded in my left leg (and is still with me today), the muscle weakness stabilized, and that was the primary concern in my case. Well, that and the possibility of developing cauda equina syndrome. I've never had any major problems since then, with the exception of some new patches of numbness that occur about once a year. Per my neurosurgeon's orders, I usually take a high dose of ibuprofen or 7-10 days, rest, maybe use my inversion table, and then the numbness recedes. True to form, a new patch of numbness occurred about 2 weeks ago, so I started the same routine again to eliminate it. However, not only has the numbness not receded, but the muscles around my left knee and in my foot feel strange, almost like they're in the most preliminary stages of falling asleep. I've done all the usual tests that my doctors have used in the past for testing muscle weakness: walking on my toes, then switching to my heels; doing sets of 10-20 calf raises; jumping; squats without weights, etc. I can do all of that. Nevertheless, the muscle responses just don't feel normal. I don't live in Baltimore anymore, so I would need to find a new physician to test all of this out, but my situation is made worse by the fact that my new insurance doesn't kick in for another few weeks. At the moment, all I have is emergency insurance, and I really don't feel like paying out of pocket for another MRI or specialist consultations, which would likely run into the thousands of dollars.

Has anyone been in a similar situation with a (possible) relapse of muscle weakness? I know some physicians say that you can wait upwards of 6 weeks to determine muscle weakness, but I don't want to wait until it's too late to reverse the damage, especially since I'm in my 30s and generally pretty active.

Thanks for any anecdotes or advice in advance.

All the best,



  • There aren't any tests that you can do at home. They need to be done by a physician. Can you see your primary for evaluation if you are concerned about the symptoms?
  • Hi Sandi,

    I agree that I'd be better off seeing a physician, but I think I'll have to wait until I move to Rome in about a week. My current physician doesn't know my history well since I just moved to the area (Panhandle of Texas), and I know from previous conversations that he doesn't really understand the nuances of spinal injuries. I need to see a neurologist, but financially, it's better for me to wait until I get to Rome, where the cost of health care is infinitely lower than here in the U.S., plus I'll have a new insurance policy kicking in that will cover all consultations. I'm feeling better lately, so I'll monitor the situation closely. This happens about once a year, and I know that I'm on borrowed time. One neurosurgeon told me that I would need a fusion probably in my 40s. Another told me that I could go indefinitely with the tiny amount of disc I had left at the L4-L5 level, or even that my vertebrae might fuse themselves naturally once they begin to touch. And, worst-case scenario, if something goes very wrong in the next two years that I'm in Italy for work, I may have to go back under the knife, but most European countries find the American practice of spinal fusion to be barbaric; they prefer synthetic disc replacement, which most American insurance companies won't cover, usually labeling it "experimental." We'll see how it goes.
  • Hopefully olnce you get to Rome, you will see the doctor and find out what he recommends.
    I know that artifical disc replacement is very popular in European countries, but the same issues with implanting a artificial device in the lumbar spine that are occuring in the US are also occurring in Europe, with further problems developing with the discs implanted in the lumbar spine. Facet joint issues, adjacent segment issues, revisions becoming necessary so before you allow anyone to implant a device in your lumbar spine, please, for your own sake, make sure you know what you are getting yourself into. Research, research and research some more. Read the medical studies, and the outcome studies, not by the device manufacturer's or the surgeons affiliated with the device companies, but independant studies.



  • nathan.s.dennisnnathan.s.dennis Posts: 22
    edited 08/30/2014 - 6:25 AM
    Thanks for the helpful links! Even before I had my microdiscectomy, I mined NIH and Johns Hopkins University's article databases on current studies for post-op success at 1, 5, and 10 year increments, as well as advances in surgical procedures. The first neurosurgeon I consulted was actually at the Hopkins hospital in Baltimore (where I lived at the time), and he authored one of the most recent studies. He was an arrogant and combative jerk during the consultation, so I didn't feel too bad about calling him out on a flaw in his methodology for the parameters of his study. :-) My job is 90% research, so I like to do my homework. :-) I have no desire whatsoever to have a fusion or a disc replacement, so I'll be avoiding those options like the plague. However, if mobility becomes a significant issue, then I may have to consider all options, including further (and likely more invasive) surgery. I will definitely do my research, though, and the links you provided are a great starting point! Thank you so much for all your help!
  • Glad that I can help. I looked heavily into adr before my first surgery, the devices were fairly new, and I followed all the development, marketing, research that I could find......the outcome studies at that time were no more than 2 years, but still read places like pubmed, journal of spine surgery, spine neurosurgery, and various other medical study sites, and the outcomes were no where near what they were being marketed as.......and then the facet joint issues started coming. I still research , the latest treatments, options, devices, because I know that a third surgery is in my future so I want to be aware of what's out there......
    I'm glad to know that you do your homework too........we have to be our own advocates when it comes to our spines. Everything, literally depends on it.
Sign In or Register to comment.