Pain in left hip & upper leg, numbness in anterior lower leg, two weeks so far

KDS444KKDS444 Los Angeles, CAPosts: 8
I am 47, male, white, 5'8" tall, 145 lbs, and have no other existing medical conditions. I am on no prescription medications, and consider myself generally in very good health, though I have had occasional lower and middle back discomfort which tends to be worse in the morning but usually quickly fades and is not something that bothers me very much.

About two weeks ago I began to notice some significant pain developing in my left hip. I had been lifting furniture about two days prior, and attributed it to that. I continued to try to use the leg more or less normally, but the pain only worsened until I was stuck solidly in bed. No significant relief came from NSAIDs. The pain was soon followed by noticeable weakness in the leg. Since then the pain has lessened and some strength has returned: I have been stretching the hip (piriformis) while lying in bed and the hot bath I took yesterday felt great! But the pain still continues at a lower grade and I avoid standing for more than a few minutes at a time or else I notice the pain increases quickly. I have noticed that the anterior aspect of my lower left leg is numb, around the front and down to and over the ankle on the inside, and that when I stand up it sometimes begins to tingle (I have no loss of feeling in any part of my foot per se, and no loss of movement in any part of the foot or leg). This tingling fades when I lie down again. I am not sure when this numbness actually developed, I only know that I noticed it after the pain had developed and I strongly suspect they are related since they are happening in the same leg at the same time.

I had a similar experience almost exactly a year ago: unrelenting pain in the hip (I believe it was the other hip, but I didn't take notes and it might have been the same hip) that brought me to the emergency room where they did X-rays that found nothing wrong. I did not (and as far as I know still do no) appear to have any disc herniations. The ER doctor a year ago gave me an injection for the pain, and I was able to walk out of the ER, though the leg was noticeably weak for several days afterwards. There was never a formal diagnosis of what was wrong then other than that it wasn't anything obvious or detectable. The doctor said it could be sciatica, but he could not identify a herniated disc. Piriformis syndrome seemed to me to be a possible explanation, but once the episode was over I did not give it much more thought. Between then and now, I have had even mild discomfort in either hip/ leg.

Having gone to the emergency room before and having the condition resolve pretty quickly and more or less spontaneously, I have been reluctant to go again. However, the pain did not last this long, and last time there was no loss of feeling in the leg. I appear to now be on the mend, of course, but am still unable to leave the house without causing the pain to flare up again (another reason I have avoided the emergency room— just getting there was going to be Herculean). Two weeks of down time seems like too long, though I understand that sciatica (if that is what it is) can take six weeks or more to heal. I also understand that sciatia does not normally happen more than once or twice in a person's lifetime. I haven't come across anything to suggest that sciatica increases in intensity with standing and walking.

I understand that the numbness in the skin of the lower leg pretty much means a pinched nerve. I don't know how this relates to the intense pain in the hip. I still have stiffness in my middle back, but this is only noticeable to me if I try massaging it.

I have no family history of genetic disorders or cancers of any kind, my parents are still both healthy and in their late 70s.

My question is this: can anyone tell me what this combination of symptoms looks like, what tests I can perform here at home that might help determining what the problem actually is, how much longer I should expect it to go on, does it sound like continuing to lie in bed is still a good idea, and what I should expect from here on in? The numbness does not appear to be fading, and the hip actually feels slightly worse this evening that it did when I woke up. Any comments, thoughts, or suggestions would be fantastic! Thank you!


  • Hello KDS444

    No one here is qualified to give medical advice.Any advice is from personal experience .
    Have you had a chance to see your Primary Care Physician?
    They will be able to zero in quicker and tell you if any symptoms are needing further attention .

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  • Sheri76Sheri76 Michigan Posts: 266
    edited 11/26/2016 - 12:10 AM
    Hi....Sciatica is a pain, and there's many things that can cause it. Unfortunately, without knowing what's causing it, it can be difficult to treat it effectively. There is no limit on how many times a person can be plagued with sciatic pain in their life.

    Are you presently using a cane? Using one could help if your leg starts to go out on you.

     Like William suggested, seeing your primary care physician could give you better insight, and hopefully some relief. Have you searched on the forums resource information about sciatica, or your symptoms? Reading about it may help guide you in asking your doctor about what other tests would be best to get to the root of the problem. The more you get yourself informed, the better you can help yourself get the help you I've read so many times on the forum, try to be your own best advocate, and don't be afraid, or ashamed, to ask for help, not that you seemed to be....glad you're here asking : )

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  • KDS444KKDS444 Los Angeles, CAPosts: 8
    Hi, Sheri! Thank you for responding. I have a cane at the ready, but have found it to be almost as annoying to have to manage using as limping. I seem to be able to actually get around the house without it, I just have to not be up for very long at any given time. Regarding sciatica— one of my concerns/ thoughts was, "Is this actually sciatica?" Because a sciatica diagnosis requires the presence of a disk herniation (as far as I have understood this). Piriformis syndrome still causes irritation of the sciatic nerve, but isn't technically "sciatica"— and piriformis syndrome is treated with getting that muscle to relax/ stretch and stop putting pressure on the sciatic nerve. In a case of bona fide sciatica, nothing you do to the piriformis muscle is going to make any difference because that is not the "root" (as it were) of the condition. I take it that my particular combination of symptoms doesn't familiar to you personally. What I am hoping is that someone will read what I wrote and say, "I/ someone I knew had symptoms like that once and it was diagnosed as X." But maybe I am hoping for too much! Made it to the bathroom again today on my own, and was able to stand at the mirror and brush my teeth. Yay!
  • KDS444KKDS444 Los Angeles, CAPosts: 8
    Also, I am wondering: wouldn't pain in the piriformis muscle when stretched be a pretty clear indicator of piriformis syndrome? Does someone who has sciatica also feel pain when this muscle (in particular) is stretched? I am not asking, "Is it possible?", I am asking, "Is this a common symptom?" Because what I've been reading recently about sciatica is that it induces pain from the back right down to the foot and that the pain isn't often mentioned as specifically localized in the hip (I definitely have discomfort/ pain when I put pressure on my piriformis, and stretching it was all but impossible at first).
  • KDS444KKDS444 Los Angeles, CAPosts: 8
    Wait, let me take that back: I am now reading that "piriformis syndrome often accompanies sciatica", and that when the sciatic nerve gets pinched, the part of the nerve around the S1 vertebra can cause the piriformis to spasm. This means that the spasm is a symptom of a problem at the nerve root... Or so I am now discovering.
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  • Hi KDS444 you may find it helpful to research the different nerve pathways that exit each level. You mentioned S1 but the numbness you referred to is not the L5/S1 nerve pathway I am familiar with. It may be a slighter higher disc or area that is causing the problem.

    If you haven't seen your doctor as yet, it may be worth a call to share your symptoms. He may want you to have an MRI to determine what is causing the numbness. Nerves heal better the less time they are trapped.

    I hope the pain reduces very soon for you.

  • KDS444KKDS444 Los Angeles, CAPosts: 8
    Thank you, AJ! I have some interesting news to report: about 24-36 hours ago I took a sharpie marker and carefully went over my left shin, marking out in a dotted line the exact border of my numbness. I pulled hairs in one place (I have very hairy legs) and if I had no feeling, it went inside the boundary. Eventually I created a large irregular loop all around the shin area. This morning I got out my sharpie and had another go. The territory enclosed by the loop had DECREASED by ½ to 1 inch in several spots around my ankle! The nerve sensation is returning at a pace that I can actually detect and map! The numbness is the area above this has not shifted (neither decreased nor increased) but I am going to take a wild guess and assume that the nerve will be re-establishing itself from the bottom up (i.e., from periphery to root). I wish I had mapped this out the first time I noticed the numbness so I could chart its progress more closely!

    I am still not sure I understand the relationship between this kind of numbness and any particular nerve root at the spine, nor what the tie-in is between the pain in the piriformis region and the numb patch other than that they are all connected to the sciatic nerve and that mine pretty clearly got pinched somewhere along the line. The pain in the piriformis is also definitely down this morning, though I have yet to try to stand on the leg to see if this will last.

    Given this improvement in symptoms, I am less inclined to visit the hospital than I was before I went to bed last night (when I was telling myself, "Tomorrow, I have to go to the doctor"). My remaining concern is that all of this may, of course, happen again at some point, and I suppose it is always possible for it to degenerate even now and send me back to square 1. No one is ever going to tell someone "You don't need to go see a doctor," because that is advice and is potentially a very wrong answer. My question then is, given all of the above, do you think that YOU (anyone reading this post) would still be likely to want to see a doctor?
  • KDS444KKDS444 Los Angeles, CAPosts: 8
    Update: my pain has largely remitted, though I still have unusual weakness in the left leg generally.  I tried moving some household items from atop an armoire recently and fell, unable to control the fall.  No new injury, but a reminder that I am far from healed.  I can limp around the apartment, and I can check the mail now, but the leg exhausts quickly.  I continue to use a heating pad to relieve minor discomfort.  The numbness in my left shin is not improving at the rate I had previously implied, and in fact appears to have stopped altogether.
  • It is good to track pain or numbness and I used to keep notes for my consultant about new symptoms and dates to help at the next appointment. You will notice with more tracking that nerve pain and numbness can increase and decreased at different times of the day. At the end of the day, mine can be horrendous and with extra painful hypersensitivity thrown in for good measure, to assist with sleep deprivation!! :-). However, this decreases with rest.

    My memory, due to medication, is awful and I cannot remember if you have seen a consultant as yet or had an MRI? Your numbness is making wonder if L4/L5 nerves might be involved. As I said my memory is pretty awful but you may be able to find more information via the internet about nerves pathways in the legs, to assist with understanding which levels maybe causing the problem.

    Good luck
  • KDS444KKDS444 Los Angeles, CAPosts: 8
    The good news is that eventually, the pain did go away.  On December 23rd (just a few days ago) I was able to go to a trampoline park with some nephews and held my own with no discomfort (plenty of worry, though!).  The flu bug I caught a few days afterwards caused aches in my joints, including my hips, and seemed to be exacerbating the sciatic nerve all over again, but that has now subsided.  I continue to have numbness in the skin of the left lower foreleg, but I am coming to view that as a not-exactly-uncomfortable condition which will probably clear up over time.

    So I am considering myself healed, and am grateful for having had this forum to discuss what was going wrong with me.  Thank you, everyone!  I hope I never feel the need to return, but I understand that if I do, there will be others here willing and able to share their own insights on what's going wrong and what to do about it.
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