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Can neck damage cause weakness and pain in both legs?

I had a serious and intense surgery in 2007 on my neck. I had cervical stenosis with a paralyzing myelopathy. After a double fusion and 2 weeks of in-house therapy, I recovered well and have been doing well until Feb. 2012. My symptoms are mostly within both legs, where they began this time. Heaviness, weakness, pain (excrutiating!), pins and needles, electric like shocks, stabbing pains here and there in upper front thighs and yesterday I thought I was stung by a bee on outside of upper right thigh. Within the past 6 weeks, I have been having the tell tell signs of neck problems. Tingling hands, last 2 fingers on right hand are numbing, pain on right side of neck with a lot of cracking and popping, shoulder and mid back pain... I have not walked normally in a year. I have seen many doctors who referred to so many different specialist because all tests, imaging and bloodwork, have been NORMAL! My spine doc says my neck is not the problem and that if it was my neck, my legs would not be affcted. (This coming from the doc who saved me from permanent paralysis in 2007) I have NO diagnoses. I have an appointment in 2 weeks and going to beg my doc to please take a look at my neck again with contrast. (Last MRI was last November, no contrast) I KNOW the symptoms except for this undiagnosed problem with my legs. I filed for SSI/Disability last Sept. How in the world will I get it with NO DIAGNOSES???

*other symptoms: fascilations, (nerve jumping) all over but especially in thighs and right under each buttock. I feel "static electricity" from head to toe when I lay down before going to sleep at night. Without any warning, I feel as if I had just stepped on a nail with horrible pain in and under big toe! Hands and fingers cramp., blurred/double vision at times... the list goes on.
The 1st MRI I had of my spine was to rule out any tumors and MS. Thank goodness they were not present. Anyone else experiencing these symptoms or have before and know your Diagnoses??? I'm 45 years old. I don't know what else to do. Also, TIRED of taking medicines!


  • I had symptoms very much like your before my 2 level ACDF and still have most of them.
    I also had testing for MS and some other conditions that they didn't name.
    It was decided that all my problems were coming from the compression of my spinal cord in my neck.

    Because I still have most symptoms, I have just had a full spine MRI scan with contrast done.
    Before getting the results the surgeon thought he may need to do another surgery from the back to get more pressure off the cord because I have a small spinal canal and things were very tight in there.
    I got the results yesterday. He doesn't need to do more surgery because my cord has been freed to move forward and now has fluid around it so he is happy.
    I do still have my symptoms and he thinks they may be due to how long my cord was compressed before surgery.
    He says there is still time for more healing to take place and that at 12 months we will know how I am going to be. That gives me another 6 months to improve. I am really hoping that things will get better and that I will be able to say that the surgery really helped me. At least I know that my cord is no longer in danger from a fall or an accident.

    I have been told that if the cord is compressed then you can get pain and symptoms all over the place including the legs and feet. My spine is degenerated throughout so it was not easy to tell what was causing what, but my surgeon seemed to blame the neck for most of it. I do get a tightening band around my chest that he blames on two thoracic discs that are compressing the cord slightly but not enough to need treatment.

    I am back on nerve pain meds and know what you mean about being tired of taking them. I think I am more tired of the pains though!

    I hope that you will get a diagnosis soon. I think that a full spine MRI with contrast may be helpful to tell what is going on.
    Good luck! :-)

  • Diseases have become complicated and so have their treatments. What may seem to you as a simple pain in your legs or lower back, may be due to neck damages and can actually turn out to be quite dangerous if not paid attention to immediately. This could happen due to a nerve root becoming compressed and inflamed, yet an MRI might not be able to detect which nerve root is it. Such pain could require selective nerve blocks therapy to detect the source of nerve pain and at the same time, cure the disease.
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  • Mimi if your cord was compressed and more than likely has suffered some damage, you could have a condition called myelopathy? I see you write about it, however surgery is not done to cure it, but only to stop the progression of the condition. AS far as making the diagnoses it is actually the surgeons clinical exam, that provides the most information. You might want to seek out a neurologist and have them do a complete exam, and more than likely they will know what test to perform to find what is going on with you. Neurologist are very good at looking at all the systems of the body, where as your surgeon is just looking at the spine, and you could have something else going on. The other thing are you taking any medications? YOu might have more than one issue going on, which could complicate the diagnoses. A myelogram would give the best information of wether or not you have a spinal cord impingement, but typically they will order them if something doesn't look clear on imaging and there is a possibility of spinal cord issues. For example I have so much scar tissue from my neck being entered so many times and the different hardware the images of wether my cord is current compressed are confusing so the myelogram will need to be performed again, to check. If I was in your shoes and the surgeon is saying it is not coming from your neck I would seek out a good neurologist.

    As to your ssdi claim keep in mind you have to have a doctor stating your not able to work and not expected to beable to work in the next 24 months. So if your surgeon is not on board, you might have issues moving forward with the ssdi, as they will pull records from all treating doctors. If your surgeon says you are fine from his/her stand point it will show in the records so you might want to get copies of those records. Also did you get copies of your MRI's and the report, and read what the radiologist put in the report? It might be at that time your surgeon didn't see anything he/she could operate on, but not that they didn't see anything. There is a difference, just keep that in mind. Sense surgeons are generally only interested in doing surgery and if they don't have that to offer to you, they just don't have a treatment for you, but it doesn't mean your not still having spinal issues.
  • Hi my name is Tina and I became sick in 2007 they thought i had a viruse, because within 10 day I lost controll over my legs and arms untill i could not walk. I was taken in to hosptail were they done sorts or test, than they done a MIR scan they told me that C3/C4 C4/C5 C6/C7 were on my spinal cord and i needed surgery strate away. Thay could not understand how this happened to me as i was not in a car cash or a fall. Surgery was done the next day but before surgery the consultant came to talk to me and told me that i would always have promblems with my legs and feet i asked him will i be able to walk, he said yes but i had a condition of the spinal cord Spondylotic Cervical Myelopathy. I was 33 at the time i have had surgery on C6/C7 now , I have a lot of leg pains shooting pains , musle weekness my feet drag i cant walk far i have bladder dammage i now also have alot of other promblems, but this all started off in the neck and both legs.
  • Hi
    Your cervical issues are close to mine plus I have major lumbar spine problems also.
    When trying to find the source of my problems now its a challenge because of both areas having severe damage and cord damage at C6/7.
    As a simple rule but not a perfect rule all the time when you have problems with both legs or arms its more likely a cervical issue.
    Reason being nerve root compression can cause these problems but to effect both arms or legs both nerve roots at the same level would each have to be compressed and at almost the same rate which would be a long shot.
    You used the nasty word MYELOPATHY which I am sure now you know that is cord damage. That had to come up in some conversation before this.

    So what would be important would be when the new issues came about did they start before surgery or months after surgery.
    In my case I had the ACDF of C/5,6,7. Weeks after surgery a few things started with my feet, felt like walking on broken glass, leggs were getting heavy like my arms did before the first surgery and it turned out that my cord did not have enough room after the fusion so I needed laminectomys of the same area to give the cord room and allow spinal fluid to be all the way around the cord. I would at the least ask them to do another MRI or a CT mylogram to see if anything new is going on.

    I do not understand anyone saying the neck can not be the issue because with the spine any damage can effect anything below the damage. Don't give up keep on them or get a second opinion to find out what's wrong before any more damage is done.
    The nerve pain your having, pins and needles is now normal for many of us. Nerve jumping and feelings of small shocks is normal for us. The double vision can be a Med like lyrica. I tried about five nerve meds and they all gave me double vision.
    I had headaches that would not go away and my PM doc felt they were from C 1-2 or 3 he did some testing and then did RF on two of them and my headaches went away. There is hope out there sometimes we just have to push a bit.

    You are right SSDI will want a DX and then you even have to show how it effects you and why you can not work.
    Keep in mind even with a DX of MS (just for a example) does not mean SSDI will approve a person. They have to have the DX and then show how and why it would keep you from working at even the simplest jobs. Don't give up just get all the ducks in a row.
    You can go to the SSA web site and find the blue book listings. In most cases you have to meet a listing and sub listings with it.
    Any questions ask away.
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  • To answer some of your questions...
    Since Aug. 2012, I have seen my spine doc who referred me to a neurologist. She did a physical exam, only, stating that because the strength in my legs was fairly good, there is no need for an EMG. (Which I am glad of because I hate that test! and after going through the needles and shocks, it still does not pinpoint the problem) She referred me to a Neuro-Physical therapist for a gait assessment. Results were "okay." I have not loss my balance, it's the PAIN, weakness, and heaviness in both legs that keeps me from walking normally. I "shuffle." Feels like my legs just do not want to walk no matter how hard I try. I use a cane for resting periods after walking 20-30 feet. My ortho doc approved a handicap parking permit for me. I can drive to town and back. (To pick child up from school) I have tried to drive further but my right leg will shake and the electric like shocks begin. After the gait asessment, I was referred to a PSYCHIATRIST! I was Dx with depression and anxiety, which I have never, ever had before now. I told the dr. "I do not feel depressed I am just SAD!" I was put on wellbutrin to help deal with "life changes." The wellbutrin has caused panic attacks, again, that I have never had before. So scary!!! Dr. thinks the benefits of wellbutrin out weigh the side effect, and I don't cry everyday as I did before the med. I was also referred to a Peripheral Vascular specialist. Had thorough ultrasounds of both legs, with normal results. Now back to my spine specialist! I am going to request another MRI with contrast of full back as I have began to have horrible pain in my left, lower back upon standing for more than 15 minutes. It is releived time I sit down. I did WELL 5 years after my neck surgery so is it possible there's a pissed off nerve hiding and being pinched off???
  • Hi Mimi719!
    I had an ACDF of the C6-7 on 3/28. Prior to the surgery I had a lot of symptoms. Pain in my neck all the way down my right arm to the tips of my fingers. Deep aches in the bones in both forearms, and sporadic shooting pain there as well. Aching and painful calf muscles and shins after walking short distances or up stairs. Painful feet all day long. Trouble maintaining balance. Dizziness periodically through out the day. Light headedness most of the time. Legs felt heavy after a long day and very painful. I would also have weird spasms of muscles in my butt and legs. That about sums up the post surgery symptoms. The Surgeon said I had Cervical Myelopathy from cord compression at the C6-7 level. I had the spinal cord compressed about 70% and severe edema around the herniation. The cord signal was also very reduced. Post surgery I am having drastically reduced symptoms as before, but also some new ones not from before. I have pain through my entire right leg, but not the left. The pain starts at the inner thigh and continues down through my foot and into my toes. Stabbing sort of describes it, but it is continual and a constant. My calf aches and is excruciating. My foot is numb. Feels like it is asleep. My toes feel cold. The second toe in from my big toe feels raw. I feel like water is dripping down my leg at times when I am dry. I also have an aches that is constant in both of my elbows now. My neck is only slightly bothering me. I have muscle spasms that I don't notice, but other people can feel. The surgeon has prescribed Gabapentin ( a nerve blocker ). It has helped some. The pain is reduced as long as I take it every 7-8 hrs. I take 600mg in the am, 300mg in the afternoon and 600mg at night. My foot is still asleep. I can't walk up steps continually (No statue of liberty for me anytime soon) 1 flight at a time. But I can successfully lay down flat without any major pain setting in.
    The surgeon told me that the nerves are in the process of relearning everything that they weren't able to do successfully for so long. Fun, I have pissed off nerves and I feel crappy for it. I can only hope the discomfort is temporary. Hope you start to feel better soon.☺
  • Its crazy some doctors pass this stuff off like its nothing.
    Cord damage is more then nothing. Depending on the area of the cord damaged the issues it causes
    can be very different. I will say my cord damage at the C6,7 does effect my legs and feet with my left ankle being worse. I have balance issues that must be the cord damage because they rulled out everything else. Now bowel and bladder issues have started. Not major yet but another issue that takes time to deal with.
    On a MRI a high T signal can mean cord damage.
    To protect our cords when scans or MRIs are done ask your doctor to show you if your cord has fluid all the way around it to protect it. A cord surrounded with fluid is a safe cord. A cord with no fluid is being compressed which may do damage.

    Good Luck guys
  • Pain in my neck all the way down my right arm to the tips of my fingers. Deep aches in the bones in both forearms, and sporadic shooting pain there as well. Aching and painful calf muscles and shins after walking short distances or up stairs. Painful feet all day long. Trouble maintaining balance. Dizziness periodically through out the day. Light headedness most of the time. Legs felt heavy after a long day and very painful.
    Hi Sam,

    I have had two ACDF surgeries since 2007. The first one was to fuse C5 thru C7, and in 2011 I was fused from C3 thru C5 to complete C3 thru C7. I had a MRI on April 30th and while the MRI images sort kinda grainy for some reason, my neurosurgeon suspects I have bone spurring at the previously fused sites. He is sending me next for a CT Myelogram and that will produce the more precise images he needs.

    But what gets me here is that I now have the precise symptoms that you were experiencing prior to surgery. I am actually going to print out that list of symptoms to produce to my surgeon, because all those symptoms I quoted above explain it best. It's not fun!

    Hope you are feeling better!
  • Since my last post, my appt. with spine specialist has been rescheduled to June 25! Needless to say, I had somewhat of a little "fit." Nothing I can do about it. Asked to be put on counselation list and even asked if doc could go ahead a new MRI WITH CONTRAST. Hoping to hear something soon. That would be great as I still feel in my gut, my problem lies within my spine. (Probably neck and lower back) I am devastated as my symptoms have worsens, changed, and are more intense. I need to be seen a lot sooner than 6 more weeks! What else can I do?
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