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L5-S1 - Drop Foot (numb foot) loss of 4th and 5th toe and limping

From: colviced - on 03/17/2010 4:22pm

I'm a 41 year old active male. I wanted to post my back experience on the net so that it might help others with similar problems.

I had a L4/L5 Disc Protrusion in 1990 and had a L4/L5 Disc Discectomy in 1991.

Three years later I developed a L5/S1 Disc Protrusion (1993). The pain was insane, where I could only stand or walk for about 1 - 2 minutes. The pain was in the top of my left buttock. That lasted for about 1 1/2 months and I was back to my usual self. At the time walking through the pain was the best exercise.

I've recently developed L5/S1 Drop Foot Dec 9, 2009. I lost all feeling in my 4th and 5th toe on my left foot. The outer part of my foot feels like it is asleep. I have absolutely no strength in my foot where I cannot stand on my tip toes or spread my toes apart. The nerve pain is insane as it goes from my hip (inside and out) right down to my 4th and 5th toe on my left foot. I limp when I walk as I have no muscle strength to propel my numb left foot forward. I dragged my foot as I walked.

I'm not one to take medication unless absolutely required. The doctor recommended Gabapentin 300mg for the nerve pain, but I did not like the way it made me feel. I only took T3's (for pain) and Naproxen (muscle relaxant) when I couldn't walk. My doctor told me that 85% of people will recover within 2 to 6 months.

I went to physio for a month and half (Dec 12 - Jan 30). I was unimpressed with physio as all they wanted to do was apply heat and tens. I could have done that at home and I wasn't getting any better. They started me on traction on about the 3rd week with 75 lbs. After about the 3rd traction session I noticed that I could start to spread apart my 4th and 5th toe (a bit).

On February 12 I bought an Inverted Traction Bed and have used it every day at home. Oh, by the way the physio therapist told me that it would be a bad idea to get a traction bed. HA! I can now fully spread my toes apart and can feel the strength coming back in my foot. My foot is still numb and I limp while walking, but at least I can start to feel the strength coming back. The nerve pain has pretty much stopped. My doctor said that the numbness will take 6 to 9 months to cure.

It's now March 17, 2010, I'm no longer limping and I'm about 85% back to normal.

I'm staying away from another operation and will continue traction and heat at home.

Here's the MRI Results for the L5-S1 (Dec 18, 2009)
There is a large posterior and left paracentral disk extrusion. This significantly compresses and posteriorly displaces the thecal sac. The exiting nerve roots are free of compression. There is severe compression of the transiting left S1 nerve root as it passes through the left lateral recess

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on 03/18/2010 5:52pm

hi i have the same exact problem right now but haven't gone through with anything yet. doctor wants to do surgery what should I do. and where do you get that machine.

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on 03/18/2010 7:00pm

Most surgeons now days will not operate on you for at least 6 months because of the fact that 85% of disc herniations will mend on their own within 2-6 months.

My herniation started on Dec 9, 2009. Today I'm about 85-90% better and glad that I didn't go through another surgery. You don't want to have to go that route unless absolutely necessary. Back surgery will fix one problem and usually leave you with another.

Just to let you know, it took two months for me to be able to move my 4th and 5th toe a part (a bit) and another 3 weeks to notice strength coming back to my foot where I could start to feel a slight resistance while applying downward pressure as I tried to stand on my tip toes. I never stopped limping until recently and my foot is still a bit numb on the outer part. The nerve pain was completely gone after about 2 1/2 months and I can now walk and stand as long as I want with out any pain.

My doctor told me that when the disc gets oxygen it will start to retract and recommended traction. I started to notice a change as soon as I started traction with my physiotherapist. I didn't have medical coverage and at $60 a pop, I ended up buying an inversion traction table.

I have a Teeter Hang Up F5000 and I'm very satisfied with it.

Here are a couple of Inverted Traction Table sites to get you started:
http://www.teeter-inversion.com/Store/dealerlocator.aspx
http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=8477602&findingMethod=rr

For the nerve pain my doctor prescribed me Gabapentin 300mg, but I didn't like the way it made me feel, so I used T3's and Naproxen.

Let me know how it goes, I've subscribed to this discussion.

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on 03/18/2010 10:39pm

I am a 52 yr old female. I was diagnosed with a herniated disc L4 L5 on Jan 24th 2010. At this point and time I have not been able to return to work due to not being able to walk, sit, stand etc for any length of time. The pain varies , it is never the same at any given time, sometimes it stricks me in the buttocks and causes my left leg to jump forward, it is alomost like it gets stuck when I go to take a step and then it frees up. I never know when that is going to happen as there is nothing I can put my finger on that causes this. The other issue I have seems to be similar to yours, while my right foot has some pain and weakness, my left foot is really bothered. I have numbness, tingeling, pain,burning and from time to time it seems that my foot drags when I walk causing me to limp. I have had 2 epidural steriod injections, I use vicodin when I can't tolerate the back pain and foot pain. I have gone twice a week for 3 weeks to physical therapy at a pool. I suggested swimming to my doctor 3 weeks after this started and he said no to swimming but yes to water therapy. I have found some relief from hanging in the deep end of the pool for 10 min after 45 min of doing movements in the pool. I don't think I can face another injection. They have helped a bit but not enough for me to bear another one only to be in bed in pain for 3 days after wards. the affects don't seem to last very long.
I am now starting to become depressed. I feel isolated as I am not working. I work in a very demanding industry that can be very stressful and physically demanding and I work 9-10 hour days. While I miss my work and loved it, I am afraid I wont be able to return to my job . With the economy as it is I don't know that I will be able to return in a different role as my company is furloughing employees and you must be able to be mutlifunctional. I know I wont be able to perform the duties of my current position the way I feel now.
I don't know what to do next. I have an appointment with my doctor next week. He did offer to send me to a surgeon at the begining of this and I said no. My doctor is pain management spine doc and he does the epidural injections. there is so much information out there , but not too much that lends it self to me making my mind up to opt for surgery. What you wrote come as close to I have found that relates to my current situation. i have no idea what to do.
What was the first surgery that you had?
thanks in advance

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on 03/19/2010 7:20am

I had a L4/L5 Disc Protrusion in 1990 and had a L4/L5 Disc Discectomy in 1991.

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on 03/19/2010 10:42am

Hi , thank you so much for responding. Can you tell me what made up your mind to do the surgery in 1991 and how it worked for you? I am scared to have surgery and wonder how long of a process this could be.
M

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on 03/19/2010 4:01pm

Well it's been 19 years now since my surgery. The surgury relieved the nerve pain. I lost a certain percentage of mobility because of scar tisue. At the time I was a road construction/oil rig worker and after the surgery I had to go for retraining and now work in an office. To be honest I suffer from extreme lower back pain from the surgery about 2 months out of each year because of lifting wrong or playing too hard.

You are approaching your 2nd month. I mentioned that my doctor told me that 85% of these type of herniations will heal on their own anywhere from 2 to 6 months. I know the kind of pain you are in. I was in terrible shape with my last L5-S1 herniation and on the third month it started to settle down. In part because of traction.

You should ask your physiotherapist to provide you with traction. If they don't have a traction bed they should have a traction belt, otherwise I'd look for another physiotherapist.

Hang in there!

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on 03/19/2010 4:26pm

thanks for the information i bought a back to life machine on tv i hope it works

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on 03/21/2010 11:43pm

I have similar situation with L5-S1. Any one have laser spine surgery? I am considering it, but still researching.

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on 03/22/2010 9:58am

yes has anyone had laser surgery? I understand from most of what i have read that these herniations go away on their own, however i haven't read from anyone that has had that happen. With the exception to say they go and come back. It seems like if you have that weakness there it tends to return to the same spot. If it were not for the pain being so bothersome it wouldn't be so confusing about what to do. Some moments I feel fine, for instance yesterday I was out for the afternoon walking in our citys inner harbor, last night I could barely crawl into bed and had a hard time getting out of bed. HOwever I am 3 weeks beyond my last epidural injection so I am certain I must still have some of the affect of that medication because while I have minor pain in thighs and back an of course always my left foot , it is not nearly as bad as when this first occurred. I guess I am just reaching because I feel I need to return to work yet am afraid to do so due to the type of work I do. I will need time off for PT and wont be able to just ask for time off etc. not in this economy anyway. I am a mess......and very stressed out

M

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on 03/23/2010 11:14am

I am a 50 year old woman and I have an L5 herniation with the S1 compressed nerve root that has been ongoing now since 09/08. I have had 3 epidural injections-they only worked for a short time, PT and tried all the medication in between (Lyrica, Gabapentin &Tramadol). I have given up hope that I will ever be "normal" again. My left side from the waist down is numb (parathesia) and it does affect my gait, however I am determined to walk for exercise and this causes a fair amount of swelling in the leg and foot. I do not take any medication now, I prefer to push through the pain, however I want to know about decompression therapy and also if anyone has tried chiropractic treatments, I have even considered acupuncture... I am desperate to have my leg and foot back, I am prone to tripping and falling since the foot feels like a wooden block and the toes cannot move at all. This has not affected my job, however I sit for long periods of time so walking is the only exercise I get, and that is painful in itself, I use alternate ice and heat for the pain when it becomes too much. Can anyone respond in regards to their personal experience with decompression therapy or chiropractic therapy?

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on 04/01/2010 9:29am

I am a 52 year old male and have had 3 lower back surgeries. The first was 6 years ago for herniated discs at l-4 l-5, l-5 s-1. I was good for a few years and then ruptured the disc again in the same area.I went back to the surgeon and he said I needed a discectomy. He did not push me and I told him I would think about it . I did not want another surgery so tried to do the decompression therapy. I went to chiropractors before and swore I would never go back because in my opinion they can't cure anything your body won't cure on its own. I don't even want to hear how this cracking your back crap "keeps your spine in line". But I gave them another chance and after 3 months of treatment 3 times a week, which I had to pay out of pocket, my condition was worse and the pain down my left leg was terrible. I could hardly walk. I went back and had the surgery in the morning and was sent home that afternoon with all symptoms gone! The doctor told me that he was expecting me back for the surgery. I told him what treatment I had tried and he just smiled and told me that I could have done that for a year and it would not have done a thing because my disc was ruptured and fragmented . I called the chirpractor's office and told them they had not dignosed nor treated me properly and I want my money back. Got it back in 3 days----in full! Don't mess around with your back. Get an MRI and seek help from a qualified MEDICAL DOCTOR. Xrays from a chiropractor are worthless when you have nerve and disc problems. Don't waste your time or money

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on 04/02/2010 11:30am

Well it's the fourth month since my L5-S1 Disc Herniation Drop Foot problem and today I can finally start to feel the numbness leaving my foot. I hope by the end of April the numbness will be totally gone. I was swinging a golf club at Golf Town this week and bought a new driver. My buddies are going golfing this Monday, so I'm going to hit a bucket of balls this weekend at the driving range. If my back holds out, hopefully I can join them.

DFC, I had the same outcome from a chiropractor. I through my back out by lifting wrong and as usual, I was couch bound for 4 days or so. I was feeling back to normal when my dad mentioned trying a chiropractor.

I went to a chiropractor for decompression therapy and that is what caused my L5-S1 disc to act up. After my first visit I was once again couch bound, but this time it was for 3 weeks and one morning shortly thereafter I had the L5-S1 drop foot symptoms. I should have tried to sue the guy!

I paid for an MRI and went to a NHL sports doctor then onto physio and traction.

Once you've had surgery I would not recommend a chiropractor as a back surgery will weaken or put stress on your other discs.

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on 04/03/2010 8:38pm

Hi everyone,
I read this entire post and want to make a few comments based on my experience alone. I'm 47 years old and have DDD, spinal stenosis cervical and lumber, spondylosis, fibromyalgia, several herniations, a few bone spurs and "naturally" fused vertebra at L5 S1. These things cause me many symptoms which I didn't understand were related for years. I have chronic vertigo for about 6 years 24/7 and intermittent before that (like being drunk - bed spinning all the time) with nausea, problems with my eyes (one goes dark and then I lose control of them but I can see still). I have sciatic pain in my left leg that is the worse pain I have ever had in my life and is not easy to live a normal life with and some pain in my right leg that goes across the top (weird).
Since all of us experienced L5 problems in different ways, we have to expect some different modes of treatment that our bodies respond to etc. This is what happened to me: I went for 15 years without belief by the doctors/ortho's with the exception of PT's and chiro's who always believe that you have pain and there is a solution. I must admit that years of chiro did not improve my situation and sometimes I wondered if it made it worse, I do not know. I continue the PT exercises as much as possible to keep some core strength but it does not take away the pains. I have had 2 tens units that really do not help though I have used them frequently. I tried massage therapy (rolphing too-not recommended), acupuncture, spinal decompression (that hurt at first!) and even a therapy called myopractics (that helped my cervical and gave me some ROM but it is very hard to find someone trained in it).
I do have an inversion table recently bought at Sears for under $100 (after doing spinal decompression on a machine, I had bone density improvement so I thought gravity does the same job.why not?) and I have had some improvement in pain but minimal (maybe if it had been done 15 years ago?). At first it was so painful to do it but it gets easier and I can stay on longer. I'm not sure of long term results though because I can move one step wrong and the pain slams me. The sciatica in the left leg that goes out by lower back and leg, and down to my toes but are mostly sharp pains - only numbness occassionaly. I am not a candidate for any kind of surgery - I think I'm high risk though they will not say it to my face! for some reason. I even had a doctor call me a liar that did NOT look at my MRI's. I have been on pain management for about 4 years now and only recently graduated to the higher levels of opiates - yes - Morphine about 120mg now total. It does help me move more but I lose my cognitive abilities so I take another medicine to offset that and everything has a side effect. I tried all the neurological meds and also the nerve block. The nerve blocks were for about a year and they only worked the first time and never after that. I also have several herniations that have not gone away for several years and new ones come and some do seem to decrease in size so I'd say that it is possible.

For the person who talked about losing their job ::::I would get those MRI's, hound the doctors for a real diagnosis and also file for short term; then long term disability at work! Make sure you get copies of all medical recordsa and MRI's right away so you'll have them as they are needed later for potential disability with Social security.

An ortho will start you with PT, then nerve blocks, then meds etc. Pursue all things like that because they might work for you! I'd avoid major surgery because I've never heard many that have good long-term results. My sister didn't do well after fusion of L3-5, but my brother in law had a laminectomny on 1 herniated disc at L4 and it's been one year and he is fine for now. I hope it holds. There are great treatments in Europe that are not covered in the US so that might be an area to check into.

There are many things but not a quick cure (don't believe those that say they have a magic pill, I tried them!), but nutrition is important for your body to heal, then PT (and always do those exercises), inversion to keep those discs loaded with oxygen and hydrated and see what happens. Then see what the doctor says.
I heard for years that nothing was "wrong "with me and you only have a neck or back sprain and if they had only done an MRI or X-ray, the DDD would have been found much sooner. Moral of that story: do not take that for an answer - keep on digging and asking. So if you do not have X-Rays and MRI's, make sure that is done ASAP.
I pray for you all because I know what it is like to be in pain so bad you do not think you can make it.. I would say you can but your level of living will change if the above therapies do not work. I have a young son that I can't run or play ball with and that is hard. I am disabled and have to get used to the idea that, for me, it's not fixable (YET!)
Hang in there everyone! Keep trying, never give up and keep people around you that love you and support you. It's important to not isolate yourself too! Keep us posted because we understand what you are going through!.
Take care!
Dee
Dee

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on 04/15/2010 6:32am

Hello there,
I too suffer from an L5-S1 posterior midline left posterolateral bulged disc. The bulge measures 7mm and for about 7 days was the most pain I have ever been in. Since Jan 15 2010 I have been on short term disability. My doctor has had me at PT ever since and I've made great improvements, but not ready to call myself 100% yet. I did purchase a Teeter inversion table and it's working quite well. I hope you get to feeling better soon.

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on 04/15/2010 8:35am

Hello Colviced,
I can relate to your injury and hope you get to feeling better. My experience with PT is somewhat different than yours. I've seen great results from Physical Therapy. The staff administers heat first, then ultrasound and electrical stimulation. This really seems to get things ready for a workout. You might want to see about changing Physical Therapy site. Feel free to contact me via e-mail anytime. It's good to talk about this. elecwhit@aol.com
Take care

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on 04/17/2010 6:20pm

Hi--I am a 49 year old who has been fit and in good health my whole life. I was working out 5-6 days a week and leading a normal, active life. 10 years ago, I had an MRI of my spine showing a slight herniation (2-3mm) in 1 disk in my lumbar and several other disk bulges. Besides occasional back pain which I was able to live with, I felt it had not impinged on my life, though I did occasionally go to a chiropractor/physical therapist.

5 weeks ago I was horsing around playing basketball with my 10 year-old niece and I suddenly felt something happen in my left, lower back (like something popped or ripped or tore in one specific spot). I was able to continue playing and even worked out a couple hours later (though the dull pain persisted). By that night, I was unable to stand up. Went to the ER, they did an x-ray and MRI and it showed I had 2 herniated disks (L1-2 & L4-5) that were 5mm protrusions and 4 other disk bulges. I have occasional burning/tingling down the left leg, but it is not consistent.

I have been to a Neurosurgeon, Chiropractor, Physiatrist, and Physical Therapist. The surgeon prescribed 12 weeks of PT which I started last Wednesday (basic stretching, myofascial release) that I don't know how this is going to make my disks herniations go away. The surgeon said if PT doesn't work, then there is an epidural, then finally surgery. The chiropractor seems more optmistic that he can make the herniations go away through pilates, deep-tissue massage (which really was scary because I was concerned the masseuse would damage the disk even more), laser heat, and accupuncture. I had the first session yesterday and felt good when I left, but felt worse last night.

I feel frightened that I will never be the same and be able to do things I once did or live a normal life. In fact, because I also have disk degeneration, I fear that eventually I might not be able to walk on my own. It seems there are so many contradictory answers and opinions and false hope out there and it's difficult to wade through all of it, especially since surgery seems like it could never fix the problem and most likely, make it worse and irreparable. I have become really depressed and feel hopeless, and just wanted to see if anyone else who has herniated a disk, have it ever recede and correct itself completely, or if it just receded enough to stop irritating the nerve, but it is still present? Any insight you could provide would be appreciated. Thank you,

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on 04/17/2010 7:50pm

Hello there,
In my case all the doctors have recommended steroid shots, possible surgery... find a good physical therapist that will assess you, build your core muscles, which will ultimately heal you. Yes, it will take longer, but well worth the time.
I'm not 100%, don't think I'll ever be, but would like 90-95%, thats ok by me. I know I won't be able to do thinks like run down the basketball court again, but such is life.
I have a little personal experience for you that happened to me the other day. My back was hurting, foot was going numb, was just thinking how messed up that was. Well, I turn the corner in grocery store and see a beautiful young girl in her parents shopping cart, she was probably 5-6 years old and was noticeably undergoing some for of cancer treatment. She had no hair and was swollen. I said to myself..." Now, your life isnt so bad after all, look at that little girl" I tell you what, that really put things in perspective for me that day.
I hope you feel better my friend and just remember to see a GOOD physical therapist. Ask around where you live, find a good one that is about healing first and foremost.
Please feel free to e-mail me anytime, ok elecwhit@aol.com

Take care,
Mike

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on 04/19/2010 12:24pm

I am 39 year old female. Herniated a disk at L4/5 in early 2008. I also have degenerative disk disease and bulging at L3/4 and L5/S1. My sciatic nerve is compressed. My facet joints are atrophying as well giving less room for my nerve. My initial physical therapy made the condition a lot worse. They used heat and lots of stretching. Initially they thought I had piriformis syndrome. PT made the situation worse and I started noticing pain around my left ankle that felt like a tight squeezing. The therapist sent me over the top on the last test he gave to ascertain my progress. I couldn't lift my left leg and could scarcely walk. The next day, I could not walk at all. I couldn't stand up at all. I could not straighten out my left leg. I had to crawl to a phone and call 911.

Pain meds and muscle relaxants and rest were immediately ordered. Then came the X-Rays. It hurt so bad to be rolled onto my left side for the X-Rays that all I could do was cry and scream. I was shaking from the pain. Finally, an MRI was ordered. The MRI was next to impossible to go through because laying on my back hurt so bad that I really couldn't do it. As a matter of fact the only position that was remotely comfortable (and really it wasn't), was to lay on my right side with my knees slightly bent.

An orthopedist/spine specialist ordered more PT and sent me to get 3 epidurals. The 2nd PT was horrible and did nothing for me. I fired them. A Chiropractor explained to me the benefits of ICE. ICE reduces the inflammation. He couldn't do anything during the first 2 visits but educate me on what was going on and tell me about ICE. The pain radiating down my left leg felt as if I had a really bad sunburn and had tried to shave my leg. There was electric pain in the big toe and my foot was always cold.

Finally, I got the epidural injections started. At the first one, I was greatly encouraged by the doctor. He asked tons of questions and let me explain the pain. He said that my illustration of the pain was the best that he had heard and he was positive that he could help. The first epidural did not go as the doctor had planned. I couldn't lay on my stomach like he needed and my leg started to spasm during the procedure. He and his team grabbed ice and my ankle and adjusted the approach to the injection. Using his flouroscope and skill, they got the medication in. He used more medicine than normal and I had to wait in recovery a little bit longer. I felt instant relief. I thought that I could get up and walk out of the hospital. I started being able to stand upright after the first epidural (for a minute or 2 at first and then I started to be able to walk a little be more). I got 2 more injections (2weeks and then 3 weeks later). I finally went back to work, using a walker, taking pain meds, and having to drive a minivan instead of my car with a manual transmission.

I went to a neurosurgeon for further evaluation, continued with chiropractic treatment, took more pain meds and muscle relaxants, invested in ice packs, and did another round of physical therapy. My last physical therapist was the best ever! She used the McKenzie method for teaching me exercises, performed myofascial release, and manual decompression, she taught me about muscle structure, the spine, and the core muscles. I learned so much from her and was helped a ton. The McKenzie method focuses on extension exercises to relieve the pain and start building the core.

It's been 2 full years now.... Where am I? I am able to work. I have a desk job. I have not had surgery to date. I have pain some days that requires more than ibuprofen. I have some loss of strength in my left leg. I can't run, go horseback riding, ride roller coasters, shovel snow, or pick up anything more than about 10-12 pounds. Life has changed but, it is far from over. I have to think about the best way to do things and if I overdo it, my back lets me know and I adopt conservative measures for a few days.

Back surgery works well for some but almost always, the person ends up herniating another disc later. I may have surgery some but for now, I continue to try to lose some weight and carry on with what I know helps.

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on 04/19/2010 7:42pm

bmcadoo1, your condition sounds exactly like what I have (re the multiple lumbar herniations) and I wanted to know if your PT has put you through Pilates? If so, how helpful was it. Also, which traction bed do you use? Thanks.

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on 04/19/2010 8:35pm

Hello bmcadoo1,
We are in same boat here. I too suffer, but as I was telling SlightlySuicidal. Make sure you get a good PT Feel free to e-mail me anytime. elecwhit@aol.com

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on 04/19/2010 10:32pm

I have had foot pain now for about 2 months. I was told I have plantar fascilitis. This came on after about 6 months of problems with my back Injections on the L5-S1 a few weeks ago. I agree with staying away from the surgery because the relief doesn't last and now I have headaches almost everyday...bad ones. With this foot pain, I'm wondering am I going to lose the ability to walk completely. Please tell me what I can do. I'm afraid. Physical therapy seems to bother me and my doctor is putting me in water therapy instead. Pain moves from one side to the other in my back and in different parts of my leg (thigh, foot, buttocks and the space between the butt and the back. I have never felt anything like this in my life. Will it ever go away. I've been like this since last June following what seemed at first to be a minor accident.

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on 04/19/2010 11:13pm

Hello there,
I want to tell you that this is exactly what I am dealing with. Find a good, sensitive Physical Therapist. One that takes their time and consistently asks how you feel. If you feel pain during physical therapy (back injury cases) that is NOT good. I am so fortunate to have an excellent PT here in the Las Vegas area. Please.... take my word on this, if it hurts, tell them to STOP and find another therapist.
Please feel free to contact me via my e-mail for more discussion. elecwhit@aol.com

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on 04/19/2010 11:56pm

My therapist is good, and I've learned a lot. It's just that I don't know how much I'm benefitting from the land therapy because my symptoms are just changing, but I still have the initial problem. Also I'm wondering what I'm going to do when I want to wear sandals? Am I going to be stuck in sneakers with inserts. OMG, I'm a professional woman. I'm also getting a little hopeless. I'm hanging on, but damn.

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on 04/20/2010 4:36am

Mstingaling I can totally understand your situation. Since my injury on Jan 15 I can hardly wear any other shoe other than a slip on type. My foot is still numb and sometimes feels like I'm dragging a stump along for a ride,haha.
I've been told that it could take six months to see numbness go away, was also told that it may never go away. Well....I guess things could be worse, but it really does play with ones mind, doesn't it? I was so active and now this... it's slowed me down so much. I spent 20 years in the Air Force working on aircraft and to have this happen, it really has hit me hard.
Have a great day and enjoy talking about this to someone that can relate.
Thanks for your time.

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on 04/20/2010 10:11am

bmcadoo1-
I am interested in the McKenzie method of PT and wonder if you could explain that to me. I am still limping around after a year and a half and have pretty much given up hope that I will be able to return to my normal life. I have always been active and since the parethesia I have become very sedentary and have developed type 2 diabetes and of course I fear losing my foot or leg now. I still force myself to walk about 30 minutes each day which causes so much swelling and pain. I feel like I will go crazy with the parethesia, tingling and numbness from my waist down in the left side. I have fought depression as well and feel like I have no where to turn for help. My doctor's have not suggested surgery, which I would not do anyway. I guess my point is that I am willing to try another kind of therapy if I can see results. I have so much to lose and so much more to gain if I can be well again.

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on 04/20/2010 10:42am

Hello CTozier,

I do not know what the Mckenzie form of PT is, but I can tell you my PT uses leg stretching, heat, ultrasound, electrical stimulation and stretching exercises and all have seemed to help. Although, like today, I am in pain just because. Like you, I get depressed and often wonder if I will ever be the same. Please feel free to e-mail me for quicker discussion.
elecwhit@aol.com
Take care,
Mike

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on 04/20/2010 10:43am

CTozier,
My apologies, I thought that message was for me, but I just noticed you were asking someone else the question about the Mckenzie system. Sorry

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on 04/20/2010 11:10am

Hi all,

As for pilates - no I never did pilates. As for the McKenzie method.... The method is based on the work of Robin McKenzie. The basic assumption with this method is that the spine has natural curves in it. Often low back pain is accompanied by lordosis (loss of the curve in the lumbar region of the spine - I have lordosis). McKenzie uses what are called Extension exercises to relieve pain and build the core. The first exercise is very simple - lie on your stomach on the floor, prop yourself up on your elbows and then go back to being flat. Work up to the point where you can do this for about 3 minutes at a time (10 second increments until you get there). The McKenzie method really stresses body mechanics that keep a curve in your lower back. I learned to use an exercise ball and to swim on the floor. If you live in the Northern VA area and need a good practice that uses this method, drop me a line at bmcadoo1@cox.net. Also you can google McKenzie method or McKenzie back exercises for more details. Good PT practices are often recommended by topnotch doctors. I am fortunate, my chiropractor refers people to a top neurosurgeon in the DC area, she referred me to good PT place.

Another thing that I left out of my post yesterday was that I did use the Gabapentin (Neurontin). I never got to the therapeutic dose of 900 mg but would alternate between 300 & 600 mg. The secret to this medication was to use it in the evening between dinner and bedtime. What this medication did for me was to help the ongoing residual nerve pain in my lower left leg and my big toe. Really electric shocks and cold sensations in your feet are not pleasant.

Hang in there everybody, persist with finding the right doctors and treatments.

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on 04/20/2010 11:20am

CTozier -

I am pre-diabetic and need to lose about 80 pounds. I want to encourage you to keep on top of your Type II diabetes. Sounds like you may need to get a good hands-on Physical Therapist that can really work with your new limitations. I know how discouraging it can be dealing with these herniated discs, sciatica, and the loss of our former lives. There is much that we just can't do now that we would like to do or that you once did. I fight it every day.

I am learning to let other people help me with projects, I am asking 'what can I do, instead?' It's been a humbling experience, has given me more compassion for others, and I have new friends and more friends.

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on 04/21/2010 7:47am

When I started this thread I forgot to mention that I had a scheduled appointment to see a surgeon in 4 months time. I went to my surgeon appointment yesterday and he was quite impressed seeing how much I progressed after seeing my initial MRI. My leg and back pain is gone, unless of course I lift something wrong. NOTE: My foot is still numb after 4 months, but I have 85% of my strength back where I can now stand on my tip toes and support my weight.

For those with the similar drop foot symptoms: The surgeon said that I have a 60% chance the numbness in the foot will go away, but it can take up to a year. He mentioned that when a nerve dies the nerve will recover at a rate of 1 mm per day. (Hope you don't have long legs) He mentioned that surgery will not cure back pain or the numbness in the foot. What surgery will do is take the pressure off of the nerve which will stop the agonizing throbbing leg/foot pain.

For those where the herniation symptoms have just started, go to physio to get assessed and ask about traction. It's going to take a few months to start to feel better, so hang in there. I've had disc trouble since I was 20 (now 41). The best advice I can give is not to look 1, 2, 3 months down the road, but take it week by week. Studies show that 85% will start to see improvements in a few months.

It's been 4 months since my drop foot symptoms started and I am back to about 85 - 90%, but I need to work on my core conditioning. It doesn't take much to irritate my back and I'm back on the couch for 3 or 4 days. It's funny, I can lift heavy things like a granite bathroom counter or drywall, but I through my back out lifting my son's swing set. It just goes to show it's not what you lift it's how you lift.

If anyone has any links to strengthen stomach muscles, it would be much appreciated if you were to post them here.

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