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cantacccantac Posts: 24
I heard that when you have sciatica in your leg, your leg can atrophy over time, is that true? I mean, aside from the limping or dragging the leg what's with the atrophy and is it muscular only? Because, after getting through it, i can hit the gym and rebuild the muscle if it is only muscular atrophy....


  • Hi there!

    Atrophy can occur for lots of medical reasons, including lack of use. As you know, atrophy means 'wasting away' (of part of a body), but unless it's severe, atrophied muscles can be rebuilt with exercise, so please don't worry!

    Bye, Val
  • So basically, if you clear up your back and sciatica the atrophy would be only in the muscle, not like nerves or something. Basically you can rebuild the muscle from working out so atrophy isn't a permanently devastating thing?
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  • Before my last surgery, my right calf became just over an inch smaller than my left leg. Normally my right calf was slightly larger and it really freaked me out. I ended up having emergency decompression surgery (lami) in August of last year and within 3-5 months both legs were normal size. My atrophy wasn't from lack of use, as I was very much active before the surgery. It was strictly from the severity of the impingement/compression in my lumbar spine.

    I know it's scary to go through, but yes, it's rather easy to regain those muscles. It's not like waiting for the nerves to re-awaken etc...
  • Its now been just over 7 months since I had an L5 S1 Microdiscectomy. before my operation i have almost total muscle atrophy in my left glute, hamstring and calf.

    Since my operation the muscles have started to come back and i would say they are about 50% of my right leg strengh now, although its taken a lot of hard work. I have been going to the gym 3 - 4 times a week and doing a lot of leg exercises such as leg press & squats.

    So I can deffinaltey say that things do get better with time. The only thing i dont know is if the nerve has to be fully healed before the muscle fully heals. Therefore am I wasting my time trying to work really hard with weights to regain my glute and calf strengh if they wont return to 100% normal until the nerve heals?

    any advice on this would be greatly appreciated.
  • To Neil
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  • hi neil - re: your muscular atrophy, as stated above:-
    gwennie17 said:

    the spinal nerves are composed of sensory and motor components. if the motor component is injured, it can result in an inability to move a part of the anatomy, as in foot drop. no amount of exercise is going to necessarily bring this function back.
    gwennie17 said:
    depending on the level of compression, it can result in atrophy of a muscle, or in various sensations such as pins and needles, burning, stinging, etc.

    so bascially, it all depends on whether the nerve's been completely severed/damaged beyond repair. in your position, i'd carry on exercising, with your pt's advice.

    why don't you check out the article on it too (see below).

    hope that helps.

    bye, val

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