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Back Problems Message Board


Back Problems Board Index


Hi, I just found this board (can't sleep!) and would love to browse it more fully to see if my questions could be answered but I am in too much discomfort to sit up much longer. Sorry that this post is so long, but I am confused and do not feel I am getting the best answers to my problems.

To give you some history, about 12 weeks ago my left lower back started hurting after a weekend warrier 15-hour gardening marathon. Two weeks later, I picked up two fire extinguishers at work by bending, twisting, and extending from ground level to loading dock level and knew instantly I should not have done that. The pain started to radiate down the front left leg to the ankle within a few days. The leg pain would come and go and I would have good days and bad days.

I started with chiropractic care 2 to 3 times a week. After six weeks with little progress, I saw my regular doctor too. I went through the X-ray and two weeks of Celebrex, and was also referred to a neurologist because of a few beats of clonus. He thought my problem was muscle related because I did not have symptoms of weekness/numbess and he prescribed a week of Prednisone. That seemed to help the first two days and then stopped helping. I went back to my regular doctor after the Predisone/Celebrex did not seem to help and she had me take an MRI. At this point, my pain had progressed to the point that I could not sleep at night and was constantly waking up.

My MRI was on Thursday, July 3rd and over the Fourth of July weekend the pain worsened in my leg to a constant 24/7 pain. My doctor prescribed Vicodin and that helped a little. But all of a sudden my left leg started buckling on me over the course of a day and I actually fell down twice. By the time I saw the doctor the next day, I could not control certain muscle groups. When lying down I could not lift my left leg at all and when she did the knee thump reflex test, my leg did not react at all! I also had numbness all through the front of the leg (a few inches above the knee down to the ankle). She had me start using a quad cane to walk and somehow got me into see a neurosurgeon the very next day (due to a cancellation) and he told that surgery was really the only option. Oh, I forgot to mention that when the MRI results came back they showed extruded disc fragments at the L3 and L4 levels. The neurosurgeon seemed really nice and competent and he had me scheduled for surgery that Monday (only two days later). The surgery was a lumbar laminectomy/discectomy.

To be truthful, I was a little scared how quickly things were moving and I hoped it did not mean that I had a serious problem that could not wait. They told me that 2/3rds of patients experience almost complete immediate relief of the leg symptoms after surgery, but because mine was severe as leg weakness/numbness that it might take me a little longer. After spending the night at the hospital, I would say my leg pain was definitely better, but my leg weakness was maybe 30% better (could now walk without cane at least), and my numbess was just as bad as ever. My neurosurgeon said that my nerve was really compressed by the fragment and that it would take about a week for the swelling to go down and for it to heal. He then told me to come in the following week for him to examine.

This brings me to this point. It has been six days after surgery with very little improvement in my leg function. I am scared that there my be permanent nerve damage. I called the office on Friday and asked to be prescribed anti-inflammatory if they thought it would help. They have me on Celebrex and after three days of that I think I have a little easier time walking but not much. I am scheduled to see the neurosurgeon again this Wednesday.

These are the issues I am concerned with:
1. From other web articles I have read, the recovery from a "neurological deficit" like I had could take weeks, months, and possibly years. One site said that a loss of reflex in your leg might NEVER recover (I am guessing that would be my non-existant knee jerk reaction). Why is my neurosurgeon acting like it would clear up in a week? What your experiences or knowledge on this?

2. I am supposed to be walking as much as possible, but it is so difficult/painful to walk. My leg is turned ******d slightly and my back hunches over towards the left too. Is it worse to walk in a bad position or not to walk at all (which could cause muscle atrophy?) I already feel that the muscles I cannot control seem all soft and it has only been a total of 10 days from the onset of losing their function.

3. Is this really what they mean by leg weakness? It really seems like partial paralysis to me, because I try to move it and it will not respond or certain muscles barely respond.

4. I have been having my current caregiver at the time (husband, twin sister, mom, etc) massage my bad leg because that seems to help especially when it tightens/cramps up. I have also used a heating pad on it occasionally, but I cannot tell if that is really helping. Is there anything else I can try to help with the numbness/weakness?

5. What do you think the next steps are going to be? I really think I will need the aid of a physical therapist to get control of my leg back and I am wondering if I need prednisone again or maybe even a steriod injection to help the nerve heal.

Thanks SO much for reading this and any advice you can give me. It is so good to stumble on a place where others know what you are going through!!

Thanks!
Eve





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