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Old 03-10-2007, 10:13 AM   #1
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cythren HB User
question for ustla

Usta,

Have you noticed an improvement in the muscle weakness in your leg now that you've had the discectomy?

I'm dealing with leg weakness too so I'm wondering how it's going for you?

I hope you've had some healing of the weakness since surgery, though it may still be too soon to tell yet...

Cythren

 
Old 03-10-2007, 02:58 PM   #2
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Re: question for ustla

Hi Cythren,

There isn't as much pain and weakness in my leg as pre surgery, but I still can't use the weak leg first going up stairs. It is stronger, but not back to normal. I am still having a lot of siatic pain from the lower backside, around hip, inside hip, across top of right thigh and burning from the knee to the ankle. The Dr said it is probably due to swelling and that it takes time for compressed nerves to heal, so I guess that it is a time thing. I think he is going to put me in pt. I go see him (actually his PA) on Tuesday. So I will know more then. They did put me on /gabapentin 300 mg three times a day and I still take meds for pain when I need to. I took a minor spill this am, tripped over dh clothes on the floor, luckily I landed on the bed, a little more sore than I have been so will have to pain med after I eat dinner. I'll keep you posted... Usta

Last edited by ustalaughalot; 03-10-2007 at 08:49 PM.

 
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Old 03-10-2007, 06:03 PM   #3
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Re: question for ustla

Do you guys notice if your one leg is smaller than the other? and second is the one leg warmer/colder that the other? I have both and was curious. What site did you see that the nerves would take time to heal? I would like to look it up. You can just give the name to search. Thanks

 
Old 03-10-2007, 06:55 PM   #4
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Re: question for ustla

Hey ustalaugh, that's good news that you've had some improvement post-surgery! It's very good that it happened so quickly, too - i've read that the weakness takes a while to improve, so if you're already seeing some change, you're in a good place. Sorry to hear about your fall today. ooh, that must have been scary so soon after surgery.

Picnica,
I was told by a physiatrist that nerve healing is a slow process. Here's what I've been told by doctors. What they told me is based on a non-surgical treatment, so the answers may be different and improvement might happen faster if you have surgery to decompress the nerve.

osteopath: said that the leg weakness takes months to heal and requires PT to see improvement. Also quoted study showing that outcomes in surgically treated vs. conservatively treated patients are identical at 3 and 5 year followups. However, I don't know if this study included people with nerve damage (muscle weakness and atrophy) or just pain alone.

physiatrist: Also quoted the study of outcomes at 3 and 5 years. Said that there are no guarantees, but that muscle strength should improve with physical therapy. He said that it is slow...that in 3 months I should show some improvement. He said to think of healing from this in terms of a *year*, not a few weeks or months. He also said that the affected muscles may never return to the same size as they were before the injury. He said 20 years ago, he had drop foot (couldn't lift front of his foot, he demonstrated) with muscle atrophy on one side from a disc herniation, and didn't have surgery. He said that he regained full function, but that the muscles never returned entirely to their original size. Showed me the difference in his calf muscles - they looked about the same size to me, but his bad leg had a bit less muscle definition. He also said that his affected leg worked as well as the good side, but that even 20 years later, would have less endurance, meaning that the muscles fatigued earlier than the good side in endurance activities like long bike rides and stuff.

Yes, my left leg is smaller than my right. The physiatrist measured with a tape measure. Left calf is 1 cm smaller now. My glutes and top thigh muscles are smaller on the left side now, too.

Yes, my affected foot has poorer circulation than the normal leg. I asked the physiatrist about it. He said that the regulation of blood flow to the capillaries is affected by the nerve damage. It doesn't mean that my foot doesn't have blood flow, but that the smaller capillaries supplying the surface are less able to regulate temperature. Sometimes my left toes look paler than my right toes.

I've been putting a heating pad on my left foot when it's cold to help with circulation. I also noticed that there is less numbness when my foot is warm. Also less numbness after I do the daily 1-2 mile walk. After walking, I can feel the circulation in my legs increased. Looking forward to trying the elliptical to get the circulation moving better again.

Sorry to go on so long, but I've done lots of reading on this stuff. I searched on the terms discogenic paresis, and found a french study of the recovery from leg weakness caused by disc injury. Some recover fully, some partially, some not at all. That article also mentions other studies that have documented improvement at 1 year, 2 years and even 3 years, which contradicts what some doctors say about nerve healing being complete at 18 months. Worth checking out if you're interested.

And one last thing...know how when you flex a muscle you can clearly feel it contracting? At the point when my leg was weakest, I tried to flex my gluteus maximus and couldn't even feel the muscle react at all. Same with my calf muscles. After increasing my walking, trying to consciously use those muscles when going up and down stairs, and doing some exercises to try to strengthen those specific areas, I can now feel the muscles contract when I flex them. My glutes are noticeably stronger - I can now balance on my left leg, knee bent, without falling over. Couldn't before. My calf is still not strong enough to let me push off with the toes when stepping forward, but now at least I can flex the muscle. Hopefully this is the start of further improvement in those muscles

Last edited by cythren; 03-10-2007 at 07:06 PM. Reason: typo corrections

 
Old 03-10-2007, 09:16 PM   #5
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Re: question for ustla

Picnica, the leg size thing is an unfair question for me. I had a bone graft done on my left hip in 2000. Two days later I ended up with deep vien thrombosis in my calf and thigh. The left calf is where they harvested the bone to graft my hip. Ever since that surgery, my left leg, mostly calf has been bigger than my right. This time my problem is on the right side. My knee still gives out on me sometimes when I am trying to walk and I have to use upper body strength to stand up from a lower sitting position or when getting out of the car. What I've noticed most aside from the still ongoing yet lessened siatic pain is that my feet aren't usually the same color. The right one usually appears more pale. In looking at both lower legs and feet right now they both seem to be swollen. Could be from the tumble I took this am. I didn't get any of my info from any websites about muscle atrophe after nerve damage, just going off of what MD and nurse told me about nerve compression and leg weakness taking a while to return to normal or almost normal. Cythren seems to have a lot more info. there, thanks for sharing it too Cythren. I hope that once I am able to go to pt that I will especially be able to strengthen the right leg quickly. My disc blew Jan 31st this year and they did the surgery Feb 26th. So I'm hoping that there wasn't much damage done due to the fact that the nerves weren't compressed as long as some other posters on the boards. In that sense, I hope that I will be able to regain full strength and total nerve healing. I pray that you both have a great night's rest tonight, no pain!!! Thanks Y'all, Usta

 
Old 03-11-2007, 11:42 AM   #6
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Re: question for ustla

Thanks for the info. You made me more at ease. I am having a tough time with strength. I was able to recover from the last operation. (I was also 28) At that time I was working out 5 days a week. This time from the length of back trouble I was not as strong going into the surgery. (the other one happened fast) I am watching my legs shrink, (both but the bad one is shrinking fast) This is most humbling. I am doing everything I can to strengthen, I am walking as far as I can, doing some eliptical machine work (when it is cold) I too am finding walking relieves allot of discomfort. I continue to look forward to being pain free. I am only taking the pain meds at night. I am finding night time is when I am in my most pain. I am better now, 2X better than before surgery. I am just weak. I cannot walk, bicycle or play with the kids without being tired. I guess also this is my first year not playing baseball/Softball in traveling teams so I guess that depresses me. I am not glad your in the same boat. But happy you both are having the same difficulties. I hope the Dr. lets me do PT. It would be nice not picking up my whole leg to walk. Thanks again.

 
Old 03-11-2007, 04:10 PM   #7
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Re: question for ustla

no prob Picnica, will let you know what PA says on Tuesday. take care, Usta

 
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