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Leg "giving out" episodes- what's it all about?

meydey321mmeydey321 Posts: 2,435
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:28 AM in Chronic Pain
I know a lot of you have had this happen. It comes out of nowhere and suddenly you're down on the ground. Is the weakness due to nerve damage? This happens at unpredictable times and it can be scary and embarrassing. When it occurs, my leg starts to hurt badly right away and so does my back. The common factor is always being on my feet for too long. Does anyone have an idea as to what's going on? Thanks :O


  • I have had this explained to me, but it has been awhile. I will try.... It does have to do with nerve compression and the interruption of the communication between the brain and the muscles. In very general terms, it usually happens as the muscles begin to become stressed or tired out. There is something like an electrical impulse that travels down the nerve and tells the muscle to move. But because of the nerve damage the signal doesn't always get through clearly. As the muscle tires, the muscle doesn't always receive the signal clearly. There can be some misfiring and it can result in a feeling of your leg giving out, buckling or actually not supporting your weight, resulting in a trip or fall.

    Usually as a person regains strength, rebuilds muscle strength, etc. this eventually goes away.

    This is a layman's interpretation of what was told to me so I hope it makes a little sense to others!
  • I use a cane for long walks as my leg and back give out on me suddenly like a trip brake. Sudden and without warning. The Drs don't seem to care about it with me. I would mention it to your Dr though. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
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  • I had the same kind of thing happen to me 20 years ago with what is commonly called bakers cysts in my left wrist. The cysts grew on top of my left wrist so I saw a doctor and he said I could ignore them unless they bothered me.

    As time went on I began dropping things, cans of soda, cigarettes, usually lit! I would often not even notice till someone told me or I heard the item hit the floor!

    So I go back to the orthopedic doc and tell him what is going on. He says it should not be the cyst due to its location.

    I go in for same day surgery, they use a nerve block and a tourniquet thingy on my left arm. They tell me there is a one hour limit they have to do the surgery. Well, I was awake most of the time and the Doc was freaking out when he got in there! He spent almost 54 minutes getting it cleared out! The thing had grown clear down through my wrist to the nerves and tendons area and was wrapped up everywhere! I still to this day have a couple of numb spots from it!

    Worst part is I have the cyst again right now in the same area. They came back just before my bike wreck. I am in no hurry to let them cut me again. I expect at some point I will start having the dropsies.

    With your leg it is indeed probably something to do with nerve damage, or compression.
  • im sorry you are experiencing the leg weakness. i feel this too at times. i have both lumbar and cervical issues. its a very scary feeling when this happens. take care..m
  • hello Im new here. History gos something like this.2006 got injured in the prison I work at responding to Emer call for help from co worker.Took theim over 4 months to get me to a DR. took 8 month to get the MRI showing hurnated disc.Iv been threw injections that I was allergic to nurmous E.R. visits physsical therpy didnt work practly killed me.Moore injections Serrous pain killer that made me eather in a coma or serrously sick to my stomic or the even better Gooffiee dork state.Now in 2009 a Dr that I had to pay out of MY pocket is saying( why havent they removed that disk and fused this ) he did this after looking at my films for say a min!pointed right to the l.4/5 why hasent workmans comp bothered to help me?I dont understand why they wouldnt want to do whats righ right off the bat would have saved the insurance co a tun of money!.
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  • comes and goes, no real patterns or ablity to predict.
    I have better days. I have very wobbly days.

    I use a cane - I wander off course alot and am unbale to gauge the location of the foot so often mis step, stumble.
    The weakness is weird. I try and stretch my back when it happens, like a pelvis tilt.

    It is defo something to do with the nerve signals and can stem from the nerve root in the back.

    You have had a fusion. Does your surgeon know? Is this a new symptom?
    Mine occurred from compression of L5 of my cage which slipped out of the vertebrae into the spinal canal, compressing L5. Although cage is long gone (6 months) the leg problems remain and recovery is a waiting game...can be upto a few years I have learnt from these boards.
    Docs will be slow to give out the permanent nerve damage line...

    Good luck.

  • Gwennie's explanation makes sense to me, it's like the leg just stops cooperating. I'm sorry you guys have experienced this and thank you for your reassurances. My NS said that I have permanent nerve damage and I guess this is why I have been having these episodes. I recently found out I have scar tissue on the nerve and I am going in for an epidural injection soon. Using a cane is a must for me because the last thing I want to do is take another fall.
  • I too have the type of fall described. I am awaiting for a discetomy & decrompression of L3 which is impinging on my nerves to both legs, but perticularly my lef tleg since the bulge from an accident 10ys ago herniated/prolapsed in Jan this year.
    My leg appears to just "give way" when tired. I walk with a crutch on my better side, but still end up flat on the floor! Very embarassing!! :-)
  • My worst disc is L4/5, that's where the worst compression of the nerves is at too and it's bilateral now where it was only on the left until this past year. I call my left leg my "jello leg" because OFTEN (like 6 or more times a month on avg) I'll be walking (invariably on cement, or stairs, in the shower....never on soft carpet or near the bed, lol) and jello leg gives out, down I go and I laugh at myself picturing me looking like the "help I've fallen and I can't get up" button lady! (hey, if I didn't laugh, then all I'd do is cry-and from a seperate issue I've been doing that for nearly 20 hours now so my tears ran out..now it's the dumb jokes time I guess, haha)

    I do have a cane, but admit that I'm VERY stubborn about using it-except when it's really snowy and/or icy and I'm in like a store parking lot or something...then I use it and my handicapped parking plaquard, but otherwise, I'm gonna be 35 this year and I refuse to use that darn third leg (or parking permit) on any form of a regular basis! I know that's dumb...but it feels like people just stare at me or pity me, or whisper "she's just faking for attention, or the closer parking spot" (oh yea, like it's SO worth parking 3 spaces closer to the door of wal mart to use a purple metal cane, get multiple needles in the back every 8 weeks and swallow handfulls of pills every day...dontcha think? *rolls eyes*)

    I can't offer you others any solutions, other than using the canes, railings where available, get a shower chair if you fall in the shower (now THAT, I DO use...cause noone can see me!) with a handheld shower head, handicapped parking especially in slippery weather times of year in your area, and if you've got a hunny...it's a GREAT excuse to get them to "hold hands" more often too-now what better reason is there than THAT? (now if only I could find me a hunny to hold my hand...*sigh*)

    OK, I'm going back to my spinal headache pity party now....the throbbing is back and still waiting on the PM Doc's office to call back-but I will try not to whine about it. I want to HELP, which in turn helps me get my mind on something else besides the fact that my eyeballs are 3 feet in front of my face and my brains are oozing out of my ears-oh and there's some sort of metal vice type gadget squeezing too...UGH!

    Try to have a great day everyone! I'll say an extra prayer for a weekend free of jello legs for us all! ;o)
  • i can't walk up stairs because leg gives out and i don't have strength to walk up stairs. my dr says due to nerve damage from numerous surgeries on back, i am partially paralyzed in right leg. does this happen all the time or part of the time? e-mail me if you need to discuss this further
    your friend and fellow teacher
    I have 4 fusions from L5-3, the latest last May '12 where they fixed my disc that broke.They went through my side this time. I take 40 mg of oxycontin 4x a day and 4 fenatyl lollipops 300 micro gms 4x a day.
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