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A little of this, a lot of that. Much frustration.

Preface: My apologies if this post violates any rules. I have searched for topics similar to what I feel my own would be and found nothing. If I have committed an infraction, I authorize you to award me zero points and may God have mercy on my soul. Also, I'm going to try to not confuse people as I feel I've confused healthcare professionals with this.

I guess the start of this whole thing was in mid-July when I began to notice that the back pain I had always had in my lower back and attributed to a combination of standing at work, lifting and bending and being overweight was spreading upward to the middle and upper back and causing a shortness in breath after lifting a 20lb case of Gatorade and massive sweating in a 36 degree cooler. That pain would only last for the time I was working but shortly thereafter I began to notice weakness and a feeling of sensation in my right calf and foot. On the night I had first noticed this issue I also had diarrhea and pressure on my bladder (couldn't lay down without feeling like I had to go and was going frequently with little coming out) which sent me online to where I would eventually scare myself to death thinking I had Cauda Equina. Within several hours the bladder issue had gone away and a visit to the doctor's office came with a diagnosis of salmonella, dehydration which caused gravel to form in the kidney and back spasms. I was given antibiotics and sent off the ice. While the urinary issues went away, the diarrhea lasted another week and I found myself in the emergency room at midnight one night after spending an hour on my now burning feet (both feet) and pacing furiously to prevent collapse. The doctor at the ER performed a 50 cent lookup of the reflexes and leg/arm strength and suggested a viral infection due to the gurgling in my stomach. Dr said he saw "no signs of neurological damage or Guillain Barre Syndrome" and sent me off the ice. A few days later the stomach issues had subsided but not the leg/foot issues.

About a week later a few folks said they had thought my right foot was swollen and I went to another ER at 10:00 PM fearful of DVT. Dr there told me before even touching me to shake my hand that I had sciatica. He based this apparently on his three ruptured discs. He barely even looked me over.

An aside: I was in between jobs, like literally this all went down in the week between one job and another. So no insurance.

After the third straight different diagnosis, I had decided that enough was enough and I would try to ride it out until my insurance plan kicks in and simply try to survive via stretching. The stretching seemed to help a little but the main issues within my right calf/ankle/foot were as prevalent as ever. A month later, I decided to make a trip to an urgent care facility EDITED where the doctor there suggested a circulation issue, perhaps diabetic neuropathy or a vitamin b deficiency.

This is where my "background" ends. I'll list the symptoms I am experiencing. It seems like I'm having one symptom of many issues but not many symptoms of one issue. Very depressing.

1. There has rarely been any discernible pain. My lower back hurts sometimes on the left side and sometimes near the buttocks during a long drive but aside from that, I've had much more painful situations in my life. This is mostly a sensation issue.

2. For the most part, it's been right-side-exclusive although the burning sensation was in both feet and for the last week or two I've had a similar feeling in my left foot but it's nowhere near as prevalent as the right foot.

3. I don't know if I can call this sensation "tingling" or "numbness". My foot hasn't fallen asleep once nor has it gone completely numb. It just feels like I can feel something circulating around -- maybe a buzzing-type feel. Sometimes the foot has felt cold but not always. It's absolutely worst at night after a day at work (I now work at a desk so I'm not on my feet a whole lot) but I haven't lost one single second of sleep due to any of this.

4. If I can say there is any pain, it's in my right hamstring. Very tight. Even after stretching. Some days I can barely extend my right leg without feeling some pain. But even this pain is nothing compared to what I've felt in other circumstances growing up. I had a little bit of pain on the side of my right leg near the hamstring but that was just once or twice and hasn't been for a while.

5. Right leg feels tired and swollen after walking and especially after climbing. Flight of stairs and the area behind my right knee feels like it's going to blow apart.

6. Occasionally I'll notice a feeling of "swelling" in the middle of my back after standing for an extended period of time. Other times I'll feel like everything is compressed against each other.

I think that's about it. Again, I apologize for any possible infractions and hopefully I didn't confuse anybody. But has anybody ever dealt with this exact scenario or anything remotely close to it? I really just want to get back to what resembled a life.




  • I have a constant buzzing feeling in my foot and down my leg I'm pretty sure my herniated disk is press On my nerve
  • Well, I certainly can't begin to diagnose you, but here's my gut based on the symptoms you've described and my own personal experiences:

    I think first of all, you've dealt with a couple different things. I think the stomach/digestive issues are probably separate from the leg issues. I don't have any idea what might be going on there.

    Second, I think it is quite possible that you're dealing with sciatica in your right leg. The extremely tight hamstring and swollen pressure behind your knee, plus the strange sensations in your foot are all things I've experienced. In my case, everything happened gradually to a point and then something triggered all out, could no-longer-stand-or-walk for more than a couple minutes at a time without extreme pain. This eventually got so bad (while waiting for insurance to put me through all the hoops) that I could no longer sit upright either.

    I did have a severely herniated disc that was pressing on the sciatic nerve root and wreaking all sorts of havoc. I had a microdiscectomy about a month after my MRI diagnosis and it made a tremendous difference. Unfortunately, that's not all I ended up needed, as I fell into the small percentage that continued to have major problems, thus why I am a week and a half out from a lumbar fusion. But apparently, I'm not the norm!

    All this to say, I'd find an orthopedic or neurosurgeon and try to get a full work-up. You don't want to mess with nerves.
    Left leg radiculopathy/sciatic pain
    L5/S1 microdiscectomy - May 30, 2014
    L5/S1 microdiscectomy - Aug 14, 2014
    L5/S1 TLIF - Sept. 24, 2014
    Left-side screws/rod removed along with bone fragment Dec. 29, 2014
  • Well, this was five months ago, it seems. Since then the following has happened.

    1. I changed doctors. I now am under the primary care of a PA-C who seems pretty smart for being a bit younger. I went back in early October and after an examination, some blood work, an x-ray of the lower back and sacrum (which the doctor said came back good), so on and so forth he recommended physical therapy. Now due to my work schedule, I didn't get around that until December which I then went through aquatic-based PT 3x weekly until the middle point in February. In many ways the therapy was amazing: The lower back pain that I had experienced as well as the "swollen" feeling that I was noticing in the middle of my back went away. I went from having pretty sharp pain in some areas to no pain at all. It was also very, very therapeutic to be around older folks who have had knee replacements and spinal fusions and hip replacements and see them being pretty active. The mental toll this kind of stuff can take on one is palpable, so being in the presence of others in a more fragile state would lead me to take stock of what I have and what I could be dealing with. Unfortunately, the swelling sensation within my right knee and lower hamstring was on-going and never really changed.

    A week after therapy wrapped-up, I had a follow-up with my doctor and he ordered an ultrasound on my right leg to rule out clots or blockages as my right leg is a little bit larger than my left. Ultrasound came back negative. Next step is an x-ray of the right knee.

    However, in the past few days -- a lot of the pains and aches and swollen feelings I was originally dealing with had come back. I went out with a friend of mine the other nite and did a bit of shopping. It was a lot of stop-and-go on the feet over the course of a few hours and I began to notice the tightness in the middle and lower part of my back return, the tingling feeling over my left shoulder blade and the numbness I would get at the very top of my right leg near the waistline was back with a vengeance. And over the weekend, even the pains in the lower left have returned. Today, I've also noticed some pain near the belly button and right side which I'm hoping is an unrelated symptom of something that will go away.

    But the frustration remains. I was really hoping that by now everything would have been back to normal.
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