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Back Problems Message Board

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I am 53 years old, 5’6” and 110lbs. I am very active and do walk aerobics, treadmill and stationary bike.

I started having a numb area near the outer portion of my knee about 6 years ago. The patch of numbness was only about 3” wide.

Over the years the numb area has increased in size and sometimes there is an electrical shock feeling or burning pain. I do not have any back pain. But I believe that the pain is related to a lower back issue and nerve compression of some type. The numbness and burning pain is in the L4 and L5 areas on a dermatome map.

I would like to schedule an appointment with a doctor to discuss whether physical therapy might help or whether I need to reduce my exercise activity to prevent further joint damage. I am also concerned that surgery might be in my future since the numbness and burning pain is getting worse as the years go by. I am in Cleveland and there is a hospital with spine specialists. I am wondering if this might be a good place to schedule an appointment.

Does anyone have any thoughts as to what this might be, what I can expect in the future or advice on managing the issue?

Thanks for your help.
I had a similar issue and after talking with a friend who is a PT I went to a sports med doctor she recommended. Xrays showed damage at 4 locations (30 year jogger here -age 73). After an MRI, all the damage is pretty evident. 14 PT sessions and it's very manageable. I'm trying to avoid surgery as for all the issues I have, it's going to be extensive and a long recovery. I just keep up with my exercises.Trainer has changed my workout. Go to chiro regularly to keep separation. It's working well. All this is to say my rec is to ask around for a sports med doc.They will try all things conservative first. Neuros operated.
Call the Spine place first, they might want an MRI if its a lower lumbar. But as you have not seen a Dr for this and struggled for years they might go MRI route to determine what is the actual issue. Depending on insurance you might have to PT to get approved for a MRI . If not resolved they will make the MRI and see a neurologist. I am always amazed that people rather ask unknown people than a neuro. The ultimate decision to have or not have surgery is yours. I just hand mine but that was after a 2013 back issue that took a close to a year to heal which the last flareup did not heal after 10 months and got worse. Even then the surgeon never pushed me. When i saw him i was ready this time. Be well informed and then plan a path for this. Maybe its not even a back issue . I lived a normal life of doing mixed martial arts , riding motorcycle over 1000`s of miles and racing them too after my first 2013 flareup. This time around nothing worked even though the 2018 flareup resolved itself in 2 months. You never know . being informed and understanding is the key.
Do you have other lower back issues or why do you think it is connected? Even if it is a disc or some sort of nerve compression, chances are good that you can still continue to exercise. If it is spine -related, you would be better off walking outside rather than on a treadmill. The repetitive nature of a treadmill can be problematic. But, if your pain levels allow it, try to keep exercising. Just avoid any activity that bends or twists at the waist, or arches your spine backward.

As you can see from your responses, back pain is common and each person has his or her preferred specialist! If you decide to see a spine specialist, I would suggest a consultation with an orthopedic spine surgeon rather than a neurosurgeon, if you are only seeing one! Sports medicine docs have their place, but I always think it makes sense to see the specialty that has the most training in the area where you suspect the this case, the neck and back.

Also, you may find that front of thigh pain can come from slightly higher up...L2 is a common source of top of thigh pain...depending on where it is located. The L4-5 dermatome does wrap around part of the upper thigh, but, at least from my personal experience, my L4-5 issues caused pain in other areas. It was a L2-3 décompression surgery that resulted in intense top-of-thigh pain when the surgeon had to tug on the nerve to free it. It was described as one of those unexpected results of surgery that I should recovery from in a few months...but, of course it took more like 18 months...but did eventually go away.

I don’t know the extent that you are bothered by the numbness, but I will suggest that the longer the spinal nerve is compressed, the greater the risk for permanent nerve damage.

I made the mistake of trying to cope and to avoid surgery for too long and as a result have a lot of permanent nerve damage in feet and ankles.
I am getting piercing pain in the front of my thigh. Was told it was a nerve coming off the spine. No amount of rubbing relieves it. Looking for answers too.

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