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Back - back of knee, calf, foot weakness/numb

rob_2011rrob_2011 Posts: 2
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:49 AM in Lower Back Pain
Hi everyone - I am new to this forum and was hoping to get some feedback on some lower back pain and leg issues I am having.

Really brief history is my back has been bothering me slightly on and off for a few years (some mornings I would wake of with a little back pain but usually gone within minutes of waking up).

I am 43 and and in pretty good health so figured this was not a big deal. About 3 weeks ago it started to bother me more so that I felt it each day but I was not in much pain. I then moved a pretty large TV last week and could tell my lower back did not like that.

About 4 hours later I was in agony (by the next morning however I was almost pain free). My lower back really hurt and the back side of my right leg from just above the knee down to the outside right half of my foot went numb (not completely but the feeling is much less). In addition my calf muscle seems to be working only at about 20% (I can't go up on my toes on my right leg).

I saw my GP and they think it's probably an inflamed disc with a pinched nerve. They did not seem too concerned. They put me on high dose advil 3 times a day and muscle relaxant at night (no pain killers since I am really not in any pain - if I sit down and try to straighten my right leg I can put myself in a lot of pain however). In addition they told me to heat it but my PT said to keep icing it (I went with my PT's advice for now). They also set me up with PT and I start this afternoon with a guy I have used before (knee issues and other small issues) and the guy is great (said he had the same thing himself, was told he needed surgery, and rehabbed it on his own and is now 100% - he said he has worked a lot of client through this also with a ton of success).

It's about 1 week later and I feel about the same as I did the very next day. No real pain (unless I straighten the leg while sitting - although I can go further now than a week ago before the pain kicks in), the same numbness is there (sometimes this turns to tingling if I am driving my car) and my calf is still weak (it's also sore since the 20% that is working is trying to do 100% of the work).

Is this something I should be concerned about - some people have suggested I go see a neurosurgeon although my GP and PT seem to think the PT will take care of it. I just don't want to wait too long and find out I should have seen a specialist sooner (my GP said they treat an inflamed disc, herniated disc, etc. the same way - and then if the treatments don't have any positive results then they go to the next level).

Thanks in advance for any advice.


  • Welcome to Spine-Health. This is a great place for information with some great articles and videos and the forum members are very supportive and knowledgeable.

    I think you're in a good position because you're just starting to have issues. Many people wait years with your kind of problem before they take stronger measures to get a diagnosis, i.e. x-rays and/or MRIs and that's when things have gotten worse.

    My personal opinion, and this is just my opinion, I'd ask to get at least an x-ray (and perhaps an MRI) on my lumbar to get a better picture of what's going on. Since you can't get onto your toe, that could be a sign of some nerve issues and nerve issues are nothing to ignore or mess with.

    Being so early into having these issues, I believe this is a good time to get some more indepth information as to what's happening in your lumbar spine. It makes me nervous to take a course of action such as PT, etc., without knowing exactly what's causing the problem. It also makes me nervous that your GP said you "probably" have an inflamed disc. I'd like to hear you "do" or "don't" have an inflamed disc, no probably.

    The way it happened with me was I started having cervical problems (it began with pain in the middle of my back, oddly enough, not neck pain) and my PCP immediately sent me for an x-ray. Based on the x-ray, she sent me to PT. When that didn't help after six weeks, she sent me for an MRI then told me I needed to find a surgeon. It's all history from there.

    So that's my two cents and I'm sure others will chime in here. The earlier you know what's happening the better the chance at helping the problem with proper treatment and conservative measures. You're doing the right thing starting with your GP, but again, I just personally think you need at least an x-ray at this point to get an idea of what's happening.

    Take care and please keep us posted.
  • Thanks for the feedback Cathie - I appreciate it!
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  • You need to have a MRI and may be a EMG a doctor or PT can not tell if you have something wrong with a disc, this sound like what happen to my husband the doctors sent him for PT before they got his MRI report back and they found out he had a disc that had blown and had a fragment ledged against his cord.
    I am not a doctor and I am not saying that it is the something but it should me check out
  • This sounds very similar to what happened to me. I did some gardening in July 2010 and couldn't move the next day; couple days later my right foot/leg went numb down the back. I also lost strength and couldn't lift onto my toes and lost reflex in my ankle. I was referred to PT which didn't really help and I continued to be in alot of pain in my lower back and leg. Finally in Oct. I had a CT scan which confirmed a herniated disc at L5/S1 that was pinching/compressing my sciatic nerve (sciatica). This is what was causing the weakness, pain and numbness in my leg and foot. It also showed arthritis and something else I can never remember. I am waiting now to see an orthopedic surgeon in April.

    I think it is important to have, at the very least, an Xray to see what is going on in there. From what I have read about sciatica if it is going to heal on its own it normally does so within 6 weeks; mine has been over 6 months.

    I hope you find out what's wrong and get the treatment you need soon.
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