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New Pain, Weakness, & Numbness - 3 weeks into a slight back issue recovery

crybdrccrybdr Posts: 6
edited 07/02/2015 - 9:58 PM in New Member Introductions
Greetings all. I've found this site to be extremely informational - and hope I can learn and help as a participant.

My injury is very recent......

I've recently turned the dreaded '40'. Three weeks ago I spent about 3 hours moving patio pavers from one part of our yard to another. I was doing straight-back lifts, walking firmly, not taking more than 4 bricks (30lbs) at a time, picking up and setting down. I felt great and strong during and afterward. Two days later on a Friday I was doing some mulching, a little shoveling, and hauling bags of mulch (maybe 40 lbs.). Again, I felt fine. All stuff I've done before. We had a great weekend of hanging out on our property Saturday and Sunday - again, no pain, no problems.

Monday put me into a 4 hour car drive for work. The next day was uncomfortable low back pain - nothing specific, just tight and slight pain sitting and flashes of pain while walking. It had gotten better, then flaired up, then gotten better over 2 weeks.

I saw my GP for another issue and mentioned the back - it was a little sore when she examined me - but I was getting around fine and had no issues other than lower back soreness. She prescribed an Ibuprofen regiment and a long list of exercises to stretch and strengthen the back.

The 3rd week I wasn't having pain, so I skipped the Ibuprofen and did a few of the exercises. I'd been up and around and feeling pretty mobile - no heavy lifting, just day-to-day stuff.

Last Thursday, I leaned back after putting on my shoe and had a twinge of horrible pain in the lower back that wouldn't go away for the rest of the day. Just lower back. Friday was better - Saturday and Sunday were fine, just walking around and doing normal stuff - no heavy lifting or yard work at all.

Sunday night I started having horrible sciatica pains running down my left leg - I could sit in a chair for about 5 minutes before I had to get up and walk around. Once I went to bed, the sciatica pain was gone and I slept soundly.

WHAM! Monday morning I woke up to a partially numb left foot (completely numb to touch from inside of arch, over the top of the foot, and running up the outside 4 inches above the ankle - can feel and move toes just fine, sole and heel are fine too). Additionally, once I got up to walk, that foot wanted to drag it's toes. That was the most unnerving (pardon the pun) feeling I have ever felt. Yep, something is really wrong. I had no pain for the rest of the day, only the numb foot and weak ankle.

I contacted my GP immediately and she said it was probably sciatica. She said to watch it closely, and if it got worse to call immediately. If it didn't improve in a couple of days - we would do PT or something else.

It's now 4 days later and there hasn't been any noticeable change in the numbness or weakness. It hasn't gotten worse - or better. I'm doing the Ibuprofen, exercise regiment, and staying cautiously active. The sciatica won't let me sit for more than 5 minutes - standing is perfectly fine. And, my back really doesn't hurt at all. So....what the heck? Backs are mysterious.

She did schedule me for an MRI this coming Monday - if I have a turnaround this weekend I can cancel.

I've been hoping that the foot would 'wake up' at some point like an arm after it 'falls asleep'. That hasn't happened and it's got me a little worried. In the last 4 days I've developed a little bit of a different 'gait' to deal with the droopy foot - but that's gotta be screwing up my posture and other parts of my body.

So yeah, from Zero to completely numb and weakness overnight without a significant memorable trauma seems weird to me.

Others here probably have similar stories. I'm only 4 days in, so I really don't have much of a history, but want to prevent any long term problems.

Thanks for reading. I'll update as I learn more.

Best to all.



  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    Please take the time to read this post and refer to it when you have questions

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    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Hi! With those symptoms I go through with the MRI whatever, if you can. I'd want to know what's going on in my spine. In my experience, all treatments, including physical therapy exercises & stretching are more effective when specifically targeted at what's wrong.
    I know its frightening! Best of luck. Please let us know what the diagnosis is. There's lots of great advise & support here.
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • MRI results:

    Bulging disc at L3/L4 with extrusion. Contacting left side nerve, slight right side contact.

    My GP says that these things usually take care of themselves over time, but that PT and injections can help speed recovery time.

    I have an appointment at a spine clinic this coming Monday.

    Symptoms haven't gotten better or worse. :)

  • Ugh! At least now you know what's causing the pain & numbness now. The injections can be good at reducing inflammation around the area. They're not a cure but sometimes they reduce pain enough to really get into PT & hopefully heal. Let us know what the clinic advises. If its injections remember to ice after. Increased pain for a while (up to a week for me) is common & can be relieved often.
    I find having trigger point injections (search at the top) helps with spasms & muscle issues caused by everything tensing to protect the injury. They're so basic that my past specialists didn't offer them. They make me more comfortable when things are bad.

    Good luck at the clinic.
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • Has anyone out here had success recovering from an extrusion using PT and injections?

    My buddy says that from now on, I've lost about 30 minutes a day (to be reserved for doing the exercises and maintaining a strong core). He says if I can stick with the program and not slack - that I will recover, surgery or not. But this is now a 'forever' thing that I will be doing.

    I'm thankful that I was able to get the MRI done quickly. I'm hopeful that my foot will 'wake up' soon.

    I'll keep you posted.
  • Some do, some don't. I know! Spines are so complicated. In my experience it's common (after a certain age) that you will always have a weakness there. Your mate is right (probably). If you always maintain a strong core you're less likely to cause more damage. I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis very young. I don't think it's a coincidence that I only became a chronic pain patient after having kids. I always looked after myself, diet, exercise for arthritis but I became HuGE with my first baby & had lots of bed rest because of other problems. Even with damaged joints I think I might of avoided this nightmare until I was much older if I'd always had a rock strong core, sensibly maintained with correct exercise. Many people end-up here from bad exercise. It's about doing the correct things in the right way.

    Don't think of me as an example. Mines a genetic perfect storm. Many, many people have spine problems, recover & get on with their lives.
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • So I am 4.5 weeks into my disc injury with foot numbness and weakness. That foot is still numb and weak - not better, not worse.

    I had a steroid injection last Wednesday that seems to be helping. Monday and Thursday were great this week - 0 pain. Tuesday, Wednesday, and today were hard - 4 pain. They tell me that the steroid hasn't quite kicked in fully yet, and that they see this 'roller coaster' of pain right around this timeframe.

    It's hard to say if I've seen improvement - the foot numbness and weakness are that same. However, I can now sleep through the night without pain - which is a HUGE improvement. This was happening even before the steroid injection.

    I've been in PT for 2.5 weeks. I recently changed to a different PT because my original one was 'non-traditional' - not quite 'crystals and incense', but close. My new PT is more 'nuts and bolts' so I'm excited to see what improvements could be on the horizon.

    I saw a spine surgeon today who was 'on the fence' about weather I needed surgery or not. He has ordered another MRI for next week to see if anything has changed internally. I think his biggest long term concern is the foot numbness and weakness. He and I would both like to see some improvement in sensation soon.

  • crybdrccrybdr Posts: 6
    edited 02/03/2016 - 8:45 AM
    My last update was 4.5 weeks after waking up to a numb and week foot.

    After that update, I had continued PT and saw 2 additional surgeons for consultation. The second requested MRI showed the same injury - just a little better definition of it. Extrusion of L3-L4 disc material compressing exiting nerve.

    At week 8 with no improvement to numbness and weakness - I elected to go with the 3rd surgeon I met with. I had a 'laminectomy' (or microdiskectomy) to remove extruded material from my L3-L4 disc. The surgeon came out after the surgery to show my wife a cup containing the material that had been removed - I have the pic. I chose the surgeon based upon multiple recommendations from friends-of-friends-of-friends I was able to dig up. Don't solely go off of 'web reviews'.

    I didn't have any back pain before the surgery and the sciatica had gone away by that point - but the numbness and weakness hadn't improved. Post-op surgery pain was intense for 4 days (only in the surgical area), but manageable with opiates. Stopped taking opiates at day 5 and didn't need them again.

    Fast-forward to today. I still have weakness in raising my foot, but it has improved - I feel a lot more 'in control' of that foot. My gait is better, but if I'm wearing dress shoes and walking on a hard surface, you can still hear that left foot snap down (can't sneak up on anyone anymore... ;-) Numbness is still there (it's surface numbness - can't feel touch, but can feel pressure) - hard to say if it's improved at all.

    I'm on the core-strengthening PT routine and waiting. My surgeon says the we'll basically know what will 'come back' in about a year. I'm just a week beyond 5 months post-op, so there is still some time for those nerves to get reacquainted with each other .

    Surgery was right for me in my opinion after lots of research and consultations - my disc wasn't simply herniated, it broke open and spilled some of it's guts out. I'm glad I did it.

    I have no lifting restrictions right now......just 'what is reasonable - and safe without twisting'. I'm a SCUBA diver with a trip planned for the beginning of March. The gear I wear is upwards of 60lbs. So, the plan is to work with the dive operation to allow me to throw my gear into the water with me jumping in after it. It floats on it's own - so I can wriggle my way into it while bobbing in the sea (not an easy task - but manageable).

    Not sure if 'updates' are still appropriate on the 'new members' part of the forum. But I thought I'd continue the string of messages to give a story/timeline for anyone else who may be in a similar situation.

    Best to all of you.


  • carlafcarlaf Labadie,MOPosts: 27
    I'm thankful you shared! I just had a microdiscectomy and have a similar timeline in the discovery of disc and timeline.  I'm having lots of weird sensations post surgery and just like reading how people are going two/three months down the line! Thanks for being so positive! 
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