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Old 06-27-2005, 10:03 PM   #1
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Question Feet going numb, L-5 problem

About three months ago I started having severe lower back pain in the mornings. I had a hard time walking when I awoke. The short of the long story, I ended up at a specialist. He did a MRI and said I barely had any disk material left in my L-5 area. He wanted me to go to physical therapy for a few months before deciding to go the surgery route. The therapy helped some, but now my legs go numb and I get shooting pains in my left hip. When I wake up the pain isn't as severe now. I guess my question is simple. Does this happen with L-5 degeneration. Can it be reversed through physical therapy? I will admit I'm scared after looking at all of the postings for back problems. I have young children and want to be able to play with them down the road. Thanks for any advice.

 
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Old 06-27-2005, 10:42 PM   #2
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Re: Feet going numb, L-5 problem

I have a back problem at the L5 level which has been getting progressively worse over the past 10 years. My feet hurt, are numb, getting shooting pains, and feel broken at times. I've done physical therapy forever and I can tell you that it helps the back pain but not the nerve pain in my feet. When I'm in alignment I feel less pain and PT helps in that way but it's only temporary. I'm trying to decide what to do next about it.

A few questions-does the numbness in your feet fluctuate throughout the day or are they numb all the time? Can you drive? Does sitting increase the numbness? I'm just wondering because I don't know too many people that have numb feet even with severe back pain.

I hope you can get some relief soon.

 
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Old 06-28-2005, 11:12 AM   #3
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Re: Feet going numb, L-5 problem

Hi there:

Sorry for your pain.

I just recently had a microdiscectomy at L5-S1 and feel great. Prior to my surgery, both my feet would go numb for hours in addition to the shooting pain down both legs. The numbness and pain would occur walking, laying down, sitting - practically any position. Since the surgery, my feet have not gone numb once.

I did try physical therapy before the surgery - two times, in fact. Unfortunately, it did not work for me and actually made things worse.

But on the brighter side, I feel great now and can not believe I had the surgery just 4 weeks ago. Dare I say it, I feel almost 100 percent normal with no pain or numbness.

Hope that helps - good luck!

Best,
Lauren

 
Old 06-28-2005, 11:36 AM   #4
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Re: Feet going numb, L-5 problem

Teamster,

Sorry for your problems, but glad you are seeing a specialist. Ortho and Neurosurgeons are good, but if you have to face surgery on the spine, having the spine specialist who had done the spine fellowship and spends all his time on spines if by far my recommended care giver for the problem.

Yes, some people, especially if the herniation or buldge is not severe, do often respond to PT and improve. However, you say you've already had the pain for about 3 months and the amount of time that a nerve is compressed does play a part in the chances for full recovery. I would suggest that you possibly ask your spine specialist about the time factor, especially if your pain is severe, say a 7-8 or more on the scale of 10 for pain intensity. According to my spine specialist who has managed to keep me walking in spite of the many spine problems, if a compressed nerve is relieved of the pressure within 6 months there's an excellent chance for full recovery, but it drops to 75 percent at 9 months and only 50 percent at a year or so. Obviously if your pain level is not quite so severe, the time frame could likely go a bit longer, and nothing is exact.

It's just that my ortho and neuro's who treated me first let me go too long and didn't tell me, so although my spine specialist got me to walking again, I have numb toes for the rest of my life because the severe pressure was there for so long. Still, I was lucky as some people don't get totally rid of the pain, so if I had to choose, I'd rather be stuck with the numbness than the pain.

Doesn't hurt to try less agressive methods such as the PT, but if you see no improvement beginning, then don't hesitate to let the doc know and if your pain level is severe and especially if it increases or you start getting numbness as well, don't wait, see the doc again.

 
Old 06-28-2005, 12:34 PM   #5
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Re: Feet going numb, L-5 problem

Quietcook has good advice -

Back pain is one thing, but once that pain starts shooting down your leg, most people give it 2-3 months of physical therapy, steroid injections, pain meds, to see if it gets better. You wait any longer than that and the chance for permanent damage increases.

It looks like you have a good quality MRI that will help your surgeon localize exactly where the problem is coming from. Sometimes it can be done with a simple discectomy or other times it may require a fusion. Considering you've had back pain, the fusion may be a better way to go. I wouldn't hesitiate to make that appointment with your spine doctor soon, and get this treated. Best of luck.

 
Old 06-28-2005, 08:39 PM   #6
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Re: Feet going numb, L-5 problem

[QUOTE=taape]I have a back problem at the L5 level which has been getting progressively worse over the past 10 years. My feet hurt, are numb, getting shooting pains, and feel broken at times. I've done physical therapy forever and I can tell you that it helps the back pain but not the nerve pain in my feet. When I'm in alignment I feel less pain and PT helps in that way but it's only temporary. I'm trying to decide what to do next about it.

A few questions-does the numbness in your feet fluctuate throughout the day or are they numb all the time? Can you drive? Does sitting increase the numbness? I'm just wondering because I don't know too many people that have numb feet even with severe back pain.

I hope you can get some relief soon.[/QUOTE]

 
Old 06-28-2005, 08:46 PM   #7
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Re: Feet going numb, L-5 problem

I do have both the numbness and pain in my back. I get relief from hanging up side down and stretching on an exercise ball. It is depressing. I'm 39 and was very active. Now I sit around not wanting to walk and step wrong and have the pain that drops you to your knees.

Thanks for responding to my thread, I'm new to this board thing.

 
Old 06-28-2005, 08:51 PM   #8
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Re: Feet going numb, L-5 problem

[QUOTE=Quietcook]Teamster,

Sorry for your problems, but glad you are seeing a specialist. Ortho and Neurosurgeons are good, but if you have to face surgery on the spine, having the spine specialist who had done the spine fellowship and spends all his time on spines if by far my recommended care giver for the problem.

Yes, some people, especially if the herniation or buldge is not severe, do often respond to PT and improve. However, you say you've already had the pain for about 3 months and the amount of time that a nerve is compressed does play a part in the chances for full recovery. I would suggest that you possibly ask your spine specialist about the time factor, especially if your pain is severe, say a 7-8 or more on the scale of 10 for pain intensity. According to my spine specialist who has managed to keep me walking in spite of the many spine problems, if a compressed nerve is relieved of the pressure within 6 months there's an excellent chance for full recovery, but it drops to 75 percent at 9 months and only 50 percent at a year or so. Obviously if your pain level is not quite so severe, the time frame could likely go a bit longer, and nothing is exact.

It's just that my ortho and neuro's who treated me first let me go too long and didn't tell me, so although my spine specialist got me to walking again, I have numb toes for the rest of my life because the severe pressure was there for so long. Still, I was lucky as some people don't get totally rid of the pain, so if I had to choose, I'd rather be stuck with the numbness than the pain.

Doesn't hurt to try less agressive methods such as the PT, but if you see no improvement beginning, then don't hesitate to let the doc know and if your pain level is severe and especially if it increases or you start getting numbness as well, don't wait, see the doc again.[/QUOTE]

 
Old 06-28-2005, 08:53 PM   #9
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Re: Feet going numb, L-5 problem

Thank you for your generous input! This is a huge cross to carry and unfortunately it seems many people bare it. I'm blessed to come across this site. People seem really to care about each other.

 
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