Hello, I am hoping you all can offer me some advice on what to do. When I was 16 the chiropractor diagnosed me with Spondylolysis, Spondylolisthesis, and slight Scoliosis. He told me I had the back of a 45 year old. I am now 31 and haven't been to a doctor or chiropractor since (awful, I know). My problem is, for the past 2 years I have been suffering from what I believe to be sciatica. I wake up in the mornings, and I can barely walk. If I cough in the morning, I fall down. I can not bare weight on my right leg, it feels like my butt cheek and thigh muscle is ripping in two. Pain shoots down my leg into my foot, my shin and ankle throb a lot. Outer hip hurts and looks raised higher on the side with the hurt leg. Inner hips hurt and "pop" when I twist my legs. I'm having intense muscle spasms that wake me out of sleep, and I can't walk down the street without the need to sit down. I can't get a job, because I can't stand for longer then a couple minutes. I'm currently taking 6-8 generic Excedrin a day to deal with the pain and I think I have an ulcer from it In the past month, I've also developed a soft lump, in the shape of a horizontal line above my ankle. I don't know if this is related to the leg pain or not. To further add to my sob story, I have no insurance. Should I go to the E.R.? Is leg weakness an emergency situation? Or save and go to the chiropractor? I don't know what to do. I am scared I will be paralyzed soon. Any advice is appreciated.
Welcome to the board. I am sorry you have been suffering from back issues for so long.
First, the good news. While you may be in considerable pain, lumbar issues almost never lead to paralysis. The spinal cord ends at about the L1 level so incidences of paralysis are rare. That being said, your legs may be so weak that they give out and don't support your weight, or won't move the way your brain is telling them to move.
I'm not sure how effective it would be to go to the ER. You might be able to get a MRI or CTscan which would help you know what exactly is causing your pain, but it probably wouldn't help with ongoing care.
I would not recommend going to a chiropractor. If you have a spondylolisthesis, which is indicative of instability, you do not want anyone "adjusting" your back. You need to be seeing a spine surgeon, either an orthopedic spine surgeon or a neurosurgeon who limit their practice to issues of the neck and back.
I would suggest you call your state office of health services to see what might be available to you. Some big city or university hospitals offer free clinics, etc. If they cannot help you, they should be able to offer some suggestions to you.
Thank you so much for the reply and the warm welcome to the board. I will call Social Services and see if they can offer me any suggestions. It is interesting to me that you say not to go to the chiropractor. When the chiropractor diagnosed me all those years ago, he had me visiting twice a week for manipulations for a year and a half! I have no idea the grade or exact vertebrae level this problem is in. All I can remember is him saying that, my spine was too stretched out at the top and scrunched too close together at the bottom. I am wondering if this actually sciatica though. I have done a lot of research on it and from what I can tell the nerve runs through the hip to the back of the calf. I don't have pain in the back of my calf, but horrible pain that runs up and down and throbs at the shin into the foot, also the butt thigh pain. When I'm not in tremendous pain and having a good moment, I do have the pins and needles. Does this sound like sciatica or something different? I thought a chiropractor may help because I read this can happen when your pelvis is misaligned. Also, I failed to mention in my first post that my leg and foot look somewhat deformed. My leg bone looks almost like it was pushed to the side, and there is a large dent in my foot under the ankle. Then again I also have that lump above the ankle. Can my back or misaligned pelvis/hip distort the bones in my leg and foot, or cause that lump? Or do you think I have two separate issues happening? Bone doctor still my best bet? Can you post pictures on this site, because I could post a picture of the leg, foot, and lump. I can post on a different board if this is not the right question for the back pain board. I did not see a leg board and I'm assuming this is all from my back, but I honestly don't know. I think that's it, I'm sorry for the 20 questions! I realize you can't diagnose me online, but it helps to talk to people who understand, and get their feedback. Maybe it can help me know what I'm in for. Thanks so much.
Hi there -- welcome to the place where you can ask all kinds of weird questions. There is also a knee and hip board, if you want to post questions related specifically to your hip and knee. Now, this is just a query, but is it possible that your back nerves being pinched has caused them to stop controlling areas of your leg and that has caused muscle atrophy, aka the dent you are describing? Of course with the limitations of the descriptions over the internet and lack of medical degree, this is just a suggestion for you to consider.
I posted to let you know that when I was in school and had no income or insurance, I went to Planned Parenthood for my annual checkups. They were concerned about my blood pressure and referred me to a local clinic with a sliding payment scale, which took an EKG and prescibed me a cheap medication to control my blood pressure. I know that Planned Parenthood has a reputation connected to serious political viewpoints, but their primary mission is women's health and they were really helpful for general health referrals when I needed help. If Social Services doesn't have any suggestions, Planned Parenthood may be able to help you out.
Hi SweetPea, thank you for the welcome and reply. I am sure I will have all kinds of weird questions as I am a bit of a hypochondriac. This has gone on too long for me to believe it's all in my head this time. I am not sure if it is muscle atrophy or not, I have had the thought. I have looked at pictures on the net to try to compare, but I can't tell. I can move my leg muscle fine, but it looks like the muscle to the left of my shin has fallen and I have the dent in the foot and that lump above the ankle. Would muscle atrophy cause pain in the shin? There is a Planned Parenthood nearby and I never had the thought to call them, I will give it a shot. I just need to get to a point where I can stand for awhile, and stop popping 8 NSAID's a day, as it's destroying my stomach. Thank you for your help.
If you have back problems, a pinched nerve in the back can actually cause pain through the legs. Since you don't know what's going on, it's really important to seek treatment. The good? news is that spondylolisthesis can be diagnosed from standing X-rays, so if you are seeing a doctor who accepts patients with limited means, he or she can diagnose, or rule out, some of your conditions with relatively simple means.
Hi again. I tried getting into a doctor's office to no avail, finally broke down and went to the ER. Doc said the lump in the leg was a lipoma and nothing to worry about. Checked my legs and my right ankle reflex was absent. He ordered X-rays on my back and hip. After looking at the x-rays he wanted a ct scan of my back. Was told I have a bulging disc at L4-L5, spondylolisthesis at L5- S1. Said I had a lot of scar tissue between L5-S3 which he originally thought was a tumor, hence the ct scan orders. He said this was causing a lot of arthritis and pinching "trapping" the nerves in my back. He also said I had disc degeneration.
I got a shot of cortisone was put on a 2400mg a day ibuprofen regimen and given some pain killers. The shot has helped a lot, has brought my pain from an 8 to a 2. I am thankful but do not know how long it will last for. He said follow up care was strongly needed and he suggested physical therapy. I am trying to get into a program which has a 6 month waiting period, he told me to harass them to try and get in sooner.
So... My questions now, Do you think physical therapy will help me? Also, if my nerves are trapped in scar tissue, how would they go about fixing that? Can that be fixed?
Have you had previous surgery? Scar tissue can develop from a spondylolisthesis, but is more commonly formed as a result from surgery.
The cortisone injections can last anywhere from an hour to about 9 months. It is a good sign for you that you responded.
Sometimes scar tissue can be stretched somewhat, but there is no reliable way to get it away from the spinal nerves. Sometimes deep tissue massage or a type of acupuncture can help to move it away from the nerve.
I'm sorry you had to go to the ER, but am glad that you finally have some promising leads as to what is causing your pain.
I had a dermatologist recommend cortisone injections to help break down scar tissue, so the injection may have dual benefits (pain relief and scar tissue breaking down, too). I had one cortisone injection into my cervical spine about 14 months ago, and I am just now starting to get symptomatic. The injection was for a protruding disc, so pretty good relief from one injection.
I would worry too much about degenerative disc disease, unless the doctor mentioned specific damage. I think most adults in western countries have some DDD.
While you are waiting for physical therapy, which might be sooner since you have a diagnosis, I would recommend walking as much as you feel comfortable. If you have access to a stationary bicycle, you can also pedal. Avoid bending, lifting anything heavy, or twisting. If anything causes pain, especially pain into the legs, avoid it. If you have to vacuum, hold the vacuum at your side, and move through your legs. While standing at the sink, open one cabinet and prop your foot up.
The physical therapy, in my opinion, is helpful even if it isn't the ultimate solution. PT will strengthen your core which helps support the back, which can help your back heal on its own and prevent future injury.
Thanks for replying. @teteri66 No, I haven't had any surgeries. Dr. said there was bone rubbing on bone and that has caused all the scar tissue. I was asked repeatedly if I had been in an accident or abused. I have not. I have heard some wonderful things about acupuncture, so perhaps I will try that.
@Donna22 I agree with you. Both these ladies are very knowledgeable and I appreciate so much them taking the time to talk to me. It really helps.
@SweetPeainSF I am happy that you got some relief with your shot and I hope you can get another one, since your symptoms are coming back. The shot I got wasn't in the back, they stuck me in the arm. The nurse said it had to be in a muscle, I am not sure why. I have been walking my butt off and been doing my best to be careful. I am not supposed to bend, twist, or lift, just like you said. I also put my right foot up on anything I can find. I have done that as long as I can remember. I see I'm not alone in this . I am hopeful that the PT will help some. Strengthening my core muscles will be a good thing.
The shot feels like it has helped the most at controlling muscle spasms. I still have to take a mountain of pills (more now) and that really concerns me. I think I have an infection going on and the pills are keeping me from developing a fever. So they are masking my symptoms, and that's scary to me. Also worried about my liver, stomach, and kidneys (had pyelonephritis twice, pain worse than childbirth.) Don't know how long I can take all these painkillers before it kills me. I think I need antidepressants as this whole experience has been, for lack of a better word, a bummer.
I was diagnosed with spondylolisthesis in 2007, but had suffered from 1999. There is no magic bullet but there is lots you can do to make it better. I had a lumar-facet joint injection (mix of steroid and pain relief) and it helped lots. I recommend starting gentle yoga (ashtanga) or pilates IF you can find an instructor who has experience with back injuries. There are lots of poses that can help - child's pose, pigeon pose, cobbler pose, but you should get guidance so as not to overdo it.