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Strange Sciatica??

dpachddpach Posts: 5
After reading a lot on here, just became a member. Here's my story:

July 27, 2014 bulged a couple discs in my lumbar. Pain/fire went down my left leg from lower back to knee and through the left groin (not the private parts, just the inside crease of the leg). Got an appointment 2 weeks later with NS and he took xrays (MRI can not be ordered unless xrays done first up here on the Canadian Prairies). Xrays showed all spaces between the verts were in good condition. NS figured no ruptures, just bulged L3-L4, L4-L5 and perhaps L5-S1 mainly from years of bad posture, sitting at desks, sitting in recliners without lumber support, bad sleeping posture and years of being overweight. I am 45 yrs old, 5'9" and have been between 280-295lbs for nearly 10 years. The good news is that I am now down to 230lbs and still going.

NS recommended doing Mckenzie stretches/exercises for 4-6 weeks before he could order an MRI. Things went well. Really no pain after 6 weeks; just stiffness in lower back. Started PT and have been building core muscles and stretching.

17 days ago we decided to finally install 200 - 10lb landscape edging blocks around our back yard. I basically spend 14 hours over 2 days sitting on my knees and on my hands and knees installing these blocks. I would do McKenzie half push ups every hour to keep my back stretched but I found it was my legs that suffered the most. After couple hours I would get up and walk around and could hardly straighten my knees until I walked for a minute or two.

After second day (and finished), I went inside, took off my shoes to find my feet were numb. The numbness ran from the heels, down the outside of the feet to the two small toes. First thought was I my have pinched some nerves in my knees after being on them for so long.

Unfortunately with fall arriving and snow possible any time now, I only gave it a couple days before I had to build some firewood racks since we were having a cord of firewood delivered the next weekend. Again, knees were sore, feet still numb but back and legs were fine. That weekend we bought a wood splitter and I split/stacked the cord of wood with wife's help.

So I have been able to rest now for the last 10 days without doing any major bending or knee work. My left foot only has slight numbness along the outside and a little bit of pins/needles in the heel. My right foot has constant numbness along the outside (with varying degrees through the day), outside ankle numbness comes and goes, but no real heel numbness. I never experienced any loss of strength or flexibility and I have always been able to push up onto my toes and lift my toes.

I've been reading a lot on here and it seems like everyone with L5-S1 disc issues and sciatica says they have burning or numbness through the butt, down the back of the leg and sometimes into the feet. The worse the pinched nerve (disc bulge) the further the pain/numbness goes down the leg.

Here's the part I find odd, I don't have any pain/numbness in the butt or down the back of the leg. The only place it's numb is the feet. So I basically have a couple questions:

1. Is it possible to have a disc bulge and only have numbness in the feet without having any pain in the butt or legs first?
2. Could this be a pinched nerve issue in both knees since I spent the better part of 2 days sitting on my legs/working on hands and knees?
3. Some places on the internet say that numbness means a more heavily pinched nerve and that pins/needles is a good sign of pressure coming off the nerve while other places suggest the opposite (pins/needles worse than numbness). Which is it?

So has anyone had similar experiences as me? Would love some input from anyone. Appreciated in advance.



  • http://www.spine-health.com/forum/announcements/spine-health-announcements/welcome-spine-health-how-get-started

    A disc bulge is not the same thing as a pinched nerve.........they are two different animals, but can be intertwined.....meaning that a disc bulge can bulge in a direction that a nerve root exits between the vertebra causing nerve related symptoms.
    That being said, it is entirely possible to have pinched a nerve that only causes nerve related symptoms in a specific area of the body since each vertebral level has a pair of nerve roots that exit between the vertebra and innervate a specific area of the body.
    See this dermatome map at the link below. http://admin.spine-health.com/forum/announcements/spine-health-announcements/dermatome-map

    It would be a good idea to consult with your doctor regarding your symptoms and see what he recommends.
  • dpachddpach Posts: 5
    edited 11/05/2014 - 5:09 AM
    Because I don't have stabbing pain and can move around fine with just some numbness, it is going to be 4-5 weeks before I can get an appointment to see my NS as it is not an emergency. I have the appointment booked but I thought I'd see if anyone had any incite or experience with similar symptoms on this forum. I appreciate the input though.

    I realize it can take nerves months to heal as they usually only regenerate at around 1mm/day or so. So it could take quite a while for the numbness to go away. I am curious though as to whether this is a back/disc issue or could it be a pinched nerve issue in the knees (especially since I don't have any sciatic pain in the butt or down the leg, only numbness in the foot).

  • The diagnosis and prognosis depend on what the imaging shows, and what your physical exam shows the doctor when you see him.
    Nerve pain can be caused by lots of things, some related to your spine and some not, so until you have seen the doctor and he has examined you, discussed the symptoms and looks at any testing he may want done, it would be guessing on our parts.
  • Msatb1MMsatb1 Posts: 3
    edited 11/05/2014 - 12:20 PM
    Hello! I had an MRI that showed that I had a small right central disc herniation at the L5-S1. Although it says that the herniated disc is on the right side, I have severe left leg calf pain that radiates into my foot. And sometimes when I walk it feels like a tight rubberband around the front of my lower left leg. I have had this constant pain since February of this year. Sometimes the pain is so bad that I can't even function. I have had 2 epidural spinal injections in the L5-S1 the last couple of months without any pain relief. I refused to get a third injection since the last 2 didn't work and the doctor recommended that I talk to my PCP about referring me to a pain clinic. Can anyone tell me why my pain is on the left side when the MRI shows the disc herniation is on the right? And can you recommend any other treatments since the epidural spinal injections didn't help?
  • I suffered nerve problems (sciatic) for years! I wen to doctors, chiros, physio, etc... It was an appointment with a specialized chiropractor that does what is called Active Release Therapy that changed things for me. I was finally given a proper diagnosis. he didn't even crack my back as it wasn't needed. He did give me the answers I'd been searching for for over 15 years!

    I can't guarantee that it will help, but was the best move I made. If you have never heard of A.R.T. it is the equivalent of massage therapy, physio, and chiro in one go.

    Good luck.

  • Got in to see NS early but he doesn't want to order an MRI at this time. He is suggesting giving it another 4-6 weeks to see if it comes around on its own with some PT (McKenzie exercises) which I have been doing since day one. He says damage to nerves affecting that far down the body can take up to 3 mths before they start to feel normal again since nerves heal/regenerate so slowly and they would likely have to be damaged quite a bit to affect that far down the body.

    In the last 3 weeks, it hasn't changed too much. My left foot feels fine about 1/2 the time now and a little numbness on the outside and heel the other 1/2 the time. My right foot has some numbness on the outside all the time, with it changing to pricks/pins about 1/2 the time. Still no real pain though.

    I still don't have any real pain down the legs or in the lower back. I will get the odd shot of discomfort in the butt and in the right calf but only for a moment or two before they go away. I have been told by a couple of nurses in the family that work with surgeons that pricks/pins coming and going is a good sign as it means the nerves are starting to send signals again and are healing. But I'm not so sure. They told me I would likely get more discomfort and pain as the nerves heal and start sending signals, with it hopefully moving up the body towards the lower back. But so far, not much.

    I do notice that if I pivot both bottoms of the feet inwards (like I was trying to touch the bottoms together) I get a good pull down the outside of the feet and ankles that is a little painful.

    I thought about changing NS's but where I live, we only have a select few and they really don't want to step on each other's toes (as it appears) since it is a small group that work together. Plus my NS has been rated as one of the best in my province.

    Would appreciate any feedback from anyone who has had similar symptoms/experiences and to find out how you made out.
  • Any loss of motor function.
    Stop lifting/bending/twisting heavy repetitive things until you know for sure what the MRI and neurosurgeon says. I wouldn't want to herniate further and you sound very busy.
  • No loss of motor functions as I can still walk on heels and push up on toes on both feet. I still have all my strength on both legs. I do feel more pricks/tingles the last few days on the outsides of my feet and ankles so hopefully that means the disc has let up off the nerve and the nerves are healing and starting to send signals again.
  • As my NS wanted to give it time to see if it heals on its own before doing an MRI, my PT'ist believes it is not a disc issue. He did a slump/stretch test and a leg raise test (lying on back as he raised the legs one at a time). Each time the pain was in the back of my knee and calf, not my back, butt or upper legs (plus the lying down leg raise test had me well over 40 degree leg raise and no pain except back of knee and calf).

    So he showed me a nerve flossing technique to do multiple times a day. He thinks that 2 days of sitting on my knees/legs may have damaged the nerves where they run through the knees.

    The dead numbness is gone in my left foot and very seldom in right foot. Now I have stabbing pains if I straighten my left leg and roll my ankle outwards (bottom of foot facing other foot). I am ok to walk as straight movement is ok so far. Right foot has starting pins and needles and only seldom stabbing pain when rolling ankle outwards.

    My PT'ist believes this is a good thing as he suggests the nerves are healing and that is why the numbness is now replaced with pain.
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