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Leg Numbness & Weakness from nerve Impingement

IndymanIIndyman Posts: 2
edited 12/20/2014 - 12:39 PM in Lower Back Pain
Hello, I just want to see if anyone has had a situation similar to mine. I have been experiencing weakness and numbness in my legs, more intense in the left leg, for about 8 months. Outside of the arthritis, disc problems, an impinged nerve, and spinal stenosis I'm doing ok. I never thought that I would be in this situation at 61 years of age!

I have been in PT for 8 weeks, it has helped me gain some core strength. I had an epidural 6 weeks ago. This too helped, but I still had some numbness in both feet.

I do not have sharp pain, many times just a dull ache in the lumbar area. I use a TENS unit, ice, and heat to keep any pain in check. But this problem is greatly hindering my job and many of the things I used to do, because I am unable to stand in a stationary position. When I do stand, it seems as if my legs are just going dead and grow weak. It helps to keep moving.

My MRI read as follows:
Severe spondylitic changes (of the lumbar spine are noted with significant neural foraminal compromise at several levels.
This is most pronounced at the L3-L4 where there is a broad left foraminal extrusion which impingement the exiting left L3 nerve.
Centrally spinal stenosis is most pronounced at the L4-L5 where there is a broad extrusion creating mild to moderate stenosis. Severe neural foraminal narrowing bilaterally is present at this level.

I am carrying on with the exercises that I did in Physical Therapy, riding my recumbent exercise bike daily, and trying to lose 15-20 lbs. I need to strengthen my legs.

Some tell me that I need to have surgery and get my problem taken care of. Others tell me to avoid surgery at all costs. I was sent to an orthopedic spinal surgeon, he recommends a conservative approach and to get 2 more epidurals before I proceed. This is the approach that I plan to take. By the way, it would involve lumbar fusion surgery.

I would like to hear from anyone who may have gone down this road before, or may have some good advice.


  • You have to be very careful when nerve compression is involved and you have symptoms to go along with it. Did you ask the surgeon if you are at risk for nerve damage if you wait too long to have surgery? Did he mention why you would need a Fusion instead of a different approach that is less invasive? Every case is different, but I had multiple disc herniations along with Foraminal Stenosis that was causing nerve compressions. My surgeon wanted to avoid a Fusion because it puts added pressure on the discs above and below. Because of that reason, people are at a higher risk for additional surgeries. However, as I stated before, every case is different. The fact that you have numbness and weakness is worrisome. The last thing you want is nerve damage because you waited too long to have the pressure removed. I would seek a second opinion before making a decision. Maybe see a neurosurgeon and see if conservative treatments are recommended. If surgery is recommended you could ask if a Decompression and Discectomy would suffice. Even if a Fusion is recommended, I would highly consider it given that you've had these symptoms for 8 months. Personally I would start with a second opinion. It doesn't mean that you still couldn't have the injection in the meantime.

    I wish you well.
    Progressive DDD
    Chronic S1 Radiculopathy
    Discectomy L5-S1 2002
    Discectomy, Laminotomy/Foraminotomy L3-S1 January 2014
    Bilateral SI Joint Fusion and 2 level spinal Fusion October 2014
  • From a neurosurgeon. Your case is unique and it will help set your mind at ease and more sets of eyes on your case the better. Hope you're on the mend soon!
  • Thank you, I appreciate your response to my letter. I have spent a lot of time trying to learn about what is going on in my situation and, I have to admit that I am frustrated. I have had sciatica pain in the past, but this (the numbness) has been altogether different. I have a copy of my 2 month old MRI and X-Ray, and there was also an EMG on performed on my legs at this time. Any tips for choosing someone for a 2nd opinion?
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