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Weak Calf Muscle

creccre Posts: 44
I have had back issues from getting hit from behind in a car accident years ago. I would be down for a few days and then be fine. I was extremely healthy and active. I snowboarded, skied, and spend 3-4 days a week at the gym. My gym exercises were limited after the accident and I had therapy, but I was in good relative health. No one could seam to give me a straight answer on my lower back “awareness” or pain. I wish I would have been able to get better answers before my latest problem. I am currently 33 years old. On March 25 2009 I woke up and sneezed. I felt it down my spine, and down both arms and legs, but it stayed in the left leg. After a few minutes I tried to get out of bed. I was done.
I got an MRI and have “disk herniation narrow based. The protrudes into the left lateral recess and displaces the nerve root. The herniation measures 1 cm in diameter”.
I went home that night and that’s when things became the worst. I tried to get up and my calf and thigh just kept tightening. I was shaking in bed trying to find a position to stop the pain and cramping. I relieved it by taking a muscle relaxer. I was on 6x the prescribed amount for the first 2 days. Within a week I was off them completely. I slowly made progress becoming more and more mobile. It was a slow process, but I could see small results each day. I remember looking at both my calf muscles a several days after. It was like they disappeared. Just 2 flabby areas of skin where muscles used to be. I remember my left calf muscle had no strength. I started the decompression table and chiropractic April 3, 2009. The goal was trying to suck the disk back in. From the first night my calf had no strength. I also got an inversion table at my house and hung upside down twice a day for 15 minutes on my non chiropractic days. I got a cane to help me get to the chiropractor on April 3rd. I also bought an on line guide to healing a herniated disk. It had a lot of great information which I used. It is almost a month later and I can walk on my own, but still have almost complete calf weakness in my left leg. I just realized that today when I was asked to stand on my toes. I could easily do it with my right leg, but not with my left. I have noticed that I am making progress with walking better. At first I could only walk for just under a minute. Now if needed I can walk for over 10 and am taking bigger strides.
Now that I realized just how weak my left calf muscle is we are looking at surgery. My left calf muscle has made a significant improvement in size and I am walking better this past week. I will be getting surgical consults for Percutaneous Laser Disc Decompression and microdiscectomy this week. While I am getting the surgical consults, I will be evaluating my left calf strength. I plan on deciding the best plan of action in the days to come. The main thing I need to figure out over the next few days is: is my calf getting better, worse or staying the same.


  • Welcome to the board. Sorry for the reasons that you have found us.

    When you say "we", as in "we are looking at surgery," are you referring to a doctor and you? What type of doctors have you consulted with thus far?

    It sounds like you are slowly, but steadily making some improvement. It also sounds like you are doing your homework. Read all you can on your condition. The more you know, the better you will be able to communicate with your doctor. I would suggest finding a fellowship trained spinal specialist, if you have not already done so. This can be either a neurosurgeon or an orthopedic surgeon who has served a fellowship in the spine, and who devotes his practice to issues of the back and spine.

    If you decide to have surgery, you want to get it right the first time, so take your time in choosing a specialist that you trust and are comfortable with.
  • When I say “we” I am talking about me and my chiropractor. He is very knowledgeable and has helped many of my friends, when others could not. Having said that, “I” am doing all of the research I can to try to make this decision.
    I am slowly improving and would like to find a non surgical solution. The calf weakness is very scary. I don’t want to damage my nerves and not be able to walk correctly. As I said, this is VERY scary.
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  • Usually most lumbar spine surgeries are elective. (Of course I am not talking about a trauma where the spinal cord is snapped -- I'm talking about lumbar issues.) The only time surgery is done on an emergency basis is when there is bowel or bladder involvement or foot drop. Numbness and weakness are not considered a medical emergency. Most people with a disk herniation or stenosis experience some muscle weakness and/or numbness. Most often, it goes away when the herniation is resolved and the nerve is no longer compressed. This resolution can happen through natural healing or through surgical intervention.

    To hurry this process along, a next step is to have some type of epidural spinal injection. It is fairly common to do this in a series of three. Often it is a gradual process to get the situation to resolve.

    I would suggest you find a spinal specialist to advise you about your muscle weakness and to be sure that you have no other issues than the disk herniation...something a chiropractor might not see.
  • I read through the thread pertaining to laser surgery and just wanted to add that with both the spinal compression like the DRX 9000 and with laser surgery, I have seen a number of posts from others that the results were not long lasting.

    Did you run a search on this board to see older posts on the laser surgery topic?

    Not all disk herniations can be treated endoscopically.
  • Thanks Gwennie.
    I sent my MRI results of to an institute in Tampa. I am a type A personality (very

    humbled at the moment). After my initial consult, I politely pushed a little bit

    and talked the nice lady into having a doctor call me with further questions. The

    doctor called back and was very good at answering all of my questions (not that she

    wasn’t also very good). My symptoms, calf weakness, nerve damage. He also spent a

    great deal of time explaining the differences between Percutaneous Laser Disc

    Decompression and microdiscectomy. That was something I wanted explained in depth.

    They made a very good first impression. They also sent me a full page of lumbar

    I am also in the process of having my MRI scans sent to New York for a different

    doctor to review. I will be asking the same questions. My goal is to figure out

    the best path next week. I will be talking to my chiropractor about this in length

    over the next few sessions we have.
    In the mean time I am already using the DRX 9000 decompression table 3 times a week.

    I am also doing chiropractic, massage, cold laser, and muscle stem. Today was an

    off day. I walked for 3 minutes while focusing on using my calf while walking. I

    plan on doing this every day without overdoing it. I am also using my inversion

    table 2-4 times a day on my non therapy days. I spend 5 minutes in the morning and

    evening lightly bouncing on my bouncy ball. I am also icing my back several times a

    I feel the tip of my third smallest toe, and my calf is a little soar from the 3

    minute walk. Other than that, just another day in bed with lots of liquids. I

    continue to see better movement.
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  • I mailed my MRI scans off to NY yesterday. I have continued the decompression table, inversion table, Ice, Ice, Ice, massage, muscle stim, cold laser, and chiropractor. I am also doing some mild stretches now. I still have very little strength in my left calf, but am starting to use it more when walking. I walked, making a concentrated effort to use it, for 3 minutes on Thursday. We will see how I do today. I do notice that I am using it more and more when walking. I continue to gain mobility each day.
    Surgery seems very likely at this point, but I am holding on to the hope that I may be able to avoid it if I continue to see improvement and my calf strength comes back. I am hoping the therapy and decompression table will suck the disk off the nerve and the calf will respond. We will see.
  • In addition to my daily routine, I walked for 10 minutes yesterday using my calf. I noticed a SMALL improvement. My calf was a little soar later in the day. It was mild and the type of sourness you would get the day after your first day back at the gym. I did another 10 minutes this morning and plan another 10 minutes tonight as long as nothing starts to bother me. I am not using a cane at all, but carry it with me in the event my muscle cramps. I am clearly walking better today. I still don’t have near enough calf strength to stand on my left toes, but I do see improvement.
    I am not focusing on working out my calf excessively because I don’t think that is my problem. I am constantly icing, decompression, and inversion with the hope I can reduce inflammation and the herniation. It is a shot in the dark, but what else can I do?

    A week or two ago I noticed that once every day or so I would get a pin prick on the outside middle pad of my foot. This would usually happen when I was on the inversion table. It happened for the first time on the ball of my foot today once. I noticed the top pad of my foot near my three smallest toes seemed to be slightly puffy and tender yesterday. It was really tender, tingly and puffy several weeks ago when I first started walking with a cane. I keep feeling all of my toes and each pad of my foot and can feel everything fine. Not sure what that means. I will ask the chiropractor tomorrow and also ask the NY surgeon when he looks over my MRI this coming week. Mobility and range of movement continue to improve.
    I have some small glimmer of hope that this will continue and I may avoid surgery. If this continues and I am walking correctly again I am going to get another MRI to see where I am at. If I do get to that point the new goal will be, how do I strengthen the muscles and disks to prevent this from happening again or progressing into something worse.
  • Hi!, I am also buttling weakness but in my big toe (l4-l5 hernia).First few weeks after it went totally paralized (I was not able to move my toe up at all and had a slight drop foot) I did not see any improvement, but it did not get worse either. NOw 5 month after the insident, I can move it alright, but not against resistance. Drop foot is gone, but I still have drop-toe. However I do not feel that weakness anymore. It has been improving slowly, but I probably stay like this. I saw 3 surgeons and they did not recomeneded surgery due to some other disk issues that I have and due to the fact that I was imroving. Since it has been over a month since your injury you might as weel wait few more months to see your progress. I've been told that unless you do surgery immediatly, there is no difference if you do it after a month or 4 month or 6 months. I also told that surgery is only effective 50% in removing weakness. Sad...
  • I am still researching doctors and procedures. I am also working on getting a better definition of success regarding the weakness and the time line.
    As for my update. I had treatments yesterday. I have been driving to my appointments for a week now. No driving other than to and from appointments. I don’t want to aggravate anything. Still seeing better movement. My calf was a little tight yesterday so I skipped my 10 minute walk. Just normal walking around the house. The pad of my foot below my toes was a little tender/tingly last night and continues this morning. I am very cautious with it. No pricking of my heel or the outside pad of my foot just above it. All toes feeling almost identical. No pricking on the outside of the top left part of the 3rd toe. Now it is just an occasional feeling that it is there.
    On a slightly amusing note, the neighbors are probably starting to wonder about me. Every day they see me walking around my pool in circles, carrying a cane, followed by my two dogs. I use this area for my 10 minute walk to protect me from trouble. I would hate to be a block away and have an issue.
  • You certainly are doing everything you can to give yourself a very good chance of recovery without having to have surgery at the moment.

    I just wanted to tell you that I had sciatic pain (and a compressed nerve) for over 3 years. I had little feeling in my toes and I could not raise up on my toes. I had a fusion in Jan. 2008 and I can now stand on that leg on my toes. It has taken awhile, but I can not do it. I suffered no permanent nerve damage, even though the nerve was severely compressed for probably about 4 years.

    How are you feeling by now?
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