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Inability to walk

ButtercupfieldBButtercupfield Posts: 7
edited 12/31/2014 - 8:52 AM in Spinal Stenosis
I have wondered so often if there are others with advanced spinal stenosis who have lost their abilty to walk, even with a rollator.... My doctor says that I am a "normal" spinal stenosis patient. But I can't wrap my mind around the fact that I will never be able to walk again. My rollator is my only way of getting around but I can't go further than a few steps before having to stop as much for the leg weakness as for the pain in the upper arms and neck from leaning so heavily on my rollator. I have met an orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in back problems. He wants to decompress, etc, etc, but I have so many problems at different levels of the spine, such as 5 slipped discs, that it would only be a question of time to have to go in again and do some more work. That would mean basically spending the rest of my life in rehabilitation centers, as I live alone and would have no one to care for me in the early post-surgery stage.

Thirteen years ago, my doctor retired me from my teaching career because of severe O.A. in the ankles. Through the years the arthritis has taken over every joint in my body. But when it hit my spine, my life was sucked out of me, and I've had to learn to live within the confines of my house. Surgery seems the only option, but with a 50% chance of it actually working, I'm not going down that road. The pain is pretty well controlled with medication (Naproxen and Lyrica), but the enormous weakness in both legs makes me unable to stand on my own. I have to have both hands on a counter, or a table or my rollator.

But I would so much like to talk with people who can't walk anymore..... It's been 3 years now that I can't. Terrible loss.



  • I am so sorry, my heart aches for you.
    I really can't give you words of wisdom. I did just have surgery for cervical stenosis, which came on pretty suddenly, never mind I am way younger than the average (I'm 43).
    I have read if you've been symptomatic for more than 1 year, your prognosis declines, but I certainly would get a second opinion (and third, or more) if you haven't already.
    I hope you find some peace with your situation.

    ACDF w/Corpectomy C3-6 12/8/14 ; Laminectomy C3-6  5/19/2016

  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,875
    Before I make any comments, I need to add this so that you can give all of us some of the information that is important for all new members:


    Welcome to Spine-Health

    It would be very helpful if you could provide us with more details. Here are some questions that you
    should answer:

    • - When did this first start?
      - Was it the result of an accident or trauma?
      - What doctors have you seen?
      - What Conservative treatments have you had? Which ones?
      - What diagnostic tests have you had? And their results
      - What medications are you currently using?
      - Has surgery been discussed as an option?
      - What is your doctor’s action plan for treating you?

    Providing answers to questions like this will give the member community here a better understanding
    of your situation and make it easier to respond.

    Please take a look at our forum rules: Forum Rules

    Also please remember, there is no one on this forum site that is a medical professional. Therefore, no one can provide you with a diagnosis of your problem. You need to discuss that with your doctor.

    Spinal stenosis can be very painful but it should never keep you from walking. If anything, the more you try to walk and exercise, the better off you can deal with stenosis.
    I have both cervical and lumbar stenosis. I have had this for over 20 years now and it gets worse. When I am inactive, it prevents me from doing very simple things. The more active I am, the better I can do things, like walk distances.

    As far as Osteoarthritis., I have it, at an accelerating path that has basically destroyed my joints and continues to do so. Because of my previous spinal surgeries, Osteoarthritis just rips through my body, and with OA, there is no cure. Because of OA, I have had to have both of my shoulders totally replaced, new ball.socket and implants and had both of my hips totally replaced, again with new ball/joint and implants. My recent X-Ray has shown a good amount of deterioration in both of my knees. So within the next couple of years, both of them will also have to be replaced. Right now, I am walking in a ankle brace because I have a 3/4 torn Achilles tendon that I am awaiting reconstructive surgery to repair.

    Why all the detail? Just to let you know that while it is very difficult, walking can be done. Unless your doctor tells you that you can no longer walk, then its int your hands to do whatever you can to try. And this if for yourself. I am sure you do not want to have to depend on any device to get you moving along.

    There are so many treatment programs that can help. One of the best is aquatic therapy. I have seen how that can talk someone who could not walk at all due to severe medical situations and has given them the ability to do some minor walking, some with a walker and some without. Its hard work.. I've seen this person at the rehab center I go for my physical problems and its been almost a full year 4 days a week of working hard.. But he has achieved a sense of freedom he has always wanted.

    I dont know you and perhaps there are other circumstances that have prevented you from walking, and for that I do apologize.

    But I have always maintained that if you want something bad enough, you will achieve it.

    Best of luck
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • I have answered all your questions in my first post. Perhaps for some people, sheer willpower suffices. In my case, it's not for lack of trying. I've consulted surgeons, rhumatologists, neurolgists. They all shake their heads.. I CANNOT STAND without leaning heavily on something. When I walk (always with a rollator) , as I previously wrote, I have to stop because of the pain or the weakness. I can't walk in a store. I end up completely bent over at an angle of 90°. The stenosis in my neck prevents me from turning my head to look at the displays. I have tried everything including months of physiotherapy.

    I didn't ask for a diagnosis here.

    I just wanted to talk with other people who might be in the same situation as me. I don't need a pep talk, nor to be told to try harder. It goes without saying that I've done and tried everything. But thanks for your input. All the best,

  • They are my favorite flower. My auntie used to ask me if I liked butter and would hold one to my throat. The answer was always yes. Lol!
    We are all struggling with spine issues/family issues/the rest of our bodies. I'm a relative newcomer to this site but I've had a bad back for as long as I can remember. I hope you find what you are looking for here. I know for me it's been invaluable finding others with foot drop.. even if it won't take mine away. It helps. I know.
  • ButtercupfieldBButtercupfield Posts: 7
    edited 01/02/2015 - 3:51 AM
    Aren't they just happy flowers? And a field of them, love it!

    When I experienced foot drop many years ago, I spoke to my orthotist about it and she recommended my wearing night ankle -foot orthotics. They were a godsend. Since then, I no longer fear trying to get up from bed and not being able to bend my ankle and get to the bathroom on time! I wear day ankle-foot orthotics all day so I've never experienced it in daytime, but it used to happen when I was sleeping, my foot would point for some reason and I couldn't put it flat on the floor. Scary experience. Those orthotics have given me over 10 years of walking well in the beginning, only with a cane, but with the progression of the stenosis, it's now with a rollator... But I always wear the orthotics day and night.

    Thanks for your reply!

  • Thanks for your empathy... I've consulted many doctors. I'm still hoping for some medical breakthrough that will give me back my legs. God bless us all.

  • Hi! I personal messaged you and would like someone to talk to also. We have a lot of the same things going on. Surgery for me isn't an option so this is something I am facing. One leg now only lifts up two inches from the floor and won't let me walk much as is very heavy and weak.
  • PlumbTuckeredOutPlumbTuckeredOut Philadelphia, PAPosts: 325
    When I started going to a pain clinic this summer it was suggested that I go for PT for 6 weeks for my neck. (My whole spine is a mess and I'm post 2 surgeries but my neck was a new thing.) Anyway, I said BS because I had been to PT and the therapist had "tossed my head" and it scared me to death because, temporarily I lost the feeling in my left arm. So, I made some sort of deal with the pain doc and with me seeing only one specific PT for 6 weeks, anything I felt weird about and I could quit.
    So now, months later my neck works again..... not great and not without a lot of pain but it helped! And I'm more shocked than anyone because I definitely didn't think it was possible and it is!
    Now this bunch of twelve year olds- what I call my team because I swear they were all born in this millennium, have been slowly improving foot drop and spine pain and nerve pain. My amazement is mostly because my "big" injury happened when I was 8 years old- forty years ago! I was sincerely terrified because I too live alone and was thinking "assisted living" but now I'm thinking horseback riding and hiking!
    So far, no new surgeries but I know they are coming. I have several disobedient disks that do not want to stay put but there are compromises as long as I can avoid pain. I am so happy that I am seeing progress from pain!

    I hope that you can also find some place that can make you feel confident in your treatment again. I look forward to living daringly and hope to have many others who will be able to join me!

    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by...... (Robert Frost)
    I still don't know if I should have taken the one that said, "Caution! Dead End" (Me)
  • I also have OA and Stenosis and cannot walk.  My Dr originally said a rollator, laughed then said "No, for you a souped up scooter". I did try a walker and after a step or two had to sit so I tried a small second hand scooter.  I love it.  Gets my shopping done as I had to give up my car due to leg weakness and pain meds.  And yes recently bought a big a** scooter.  I too am sick of people saying just push thru it, especially when not asked.
  • I've recently been diagnosed with moderate to severe cervical stenosis C4-5, in recent months I've had episodic bouts of heavy legs which severely effects my gait.

    It's a sensation of being pushed down from the shoulders towards the floor.  Of course these episodes makes my anxiety which seems to make everything worse.

    Is this common?  

  • Art1947AArt1947 Holywell, UKPosts: 85
    Buttercupfield what are your circumstances now? do you have any standing or walking capability? I had an emergency laminectomy at C5/ C6 November 20, 2015 and I am able to stand and walk now but not long enough or far enough but it's improving. I wish you well. Regards, Art1947
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,875
    I had moderator lumbar stenosis in 2013 at L2/L3...  This past year, I had a lot of trouble walking 25 feet and a new MRI indicated server lumbar stenosis from L2-L5.  I had an urgent laminectomy done on March 21, 2016.

    My back is getting stronger, but my legs are still very weak due to the nerve damage.   I have been told about 12-15 months before my nerves in my legs wll get back to normal.

    I use a walker, a cane inside and outdoors, a rollator.   I've been forcing myself to take 1/4 mile walks with the rollator every day.  That along with 2x physical therapy is helping.  But my legs are still very weak....

    Eventually, over time they will get stronger and stronger.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Art1947AArt1947 Holywell, UKPosts: 85
    Do you have pain in your feet and/ or legs? Regards, Art1947
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