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  • Spine, feet and walking

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    Old 10-25-2016, 09:13 AM   #1
    mfulsac
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    Spine, feet and walking

    Had cervical spine (C5-6-7) 50 years ago and lumbar spine surgery L3-4-5 30 years ago. I am now 80.
    6 months ago pruning a tree I felt as if I dislocated something around my hip. Immediately afterwards there was no pain at all. After 4 weeks i was very uncomfortable in my left buttock and after 10 weeks I had severe sciatica in my left leg. A hip X-ray showed nothing. An MRI scan of my spine was clear apart from a very slight intrusion at L5-S1 which an orthopaedic surgeon and neurologist thought irrelevant. An MRI scan of my pelvis showed only severe oedema in the left buttock. But after 12 weeks I started to improve and within another three weeks the pain was gone.
    But it has left me with considerable loss of feeling in my left foot and ankle. BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY IT HAS LEFT ME UNABLE TO WALK MORE THAN A FEW YARDS BECAUSE THE MUSCLES IN MY FEET JUST WILL NOT FUNCTION PROPERLY. The only advice is that I just have to hope I recover this when nerves regenerate. Any ideas?

     
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    Old 10-25-2016, 08:24 PM   #2
    teteri66
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    Re: Spine, feet and walking

    Welcome to the board. Would you describe it as muscle weakness in the feet or they just aren't responding to what you want them to do? And it affects both feet?

    From what you describe of the injury, it sounds to me like you herniated a disc at L5-S1 when pruning and it gradually healed itself. The timeframe seems about right for that sequence to happen. However, all your symptoms were on the left side, which would indicate spinal nerve damage to the nerve that innervates that side...so I am not sure why both feet would now be having issues.

    If it is "drop foot," a neurologist or physiatrist usually treats it somewhat aggressively by prescribing a course of physical therapy and perhaps a brace. This seems like a rather severe symptom to develop from what was described as "irrelevant."

    Was this loss of movement going at the same time as the other symptoms, or did it develop after?

     
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    Old 10-26-2016, 07:49 AM   #3
    mfulsac
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    Re: Spine, feet and walking

    It feels like my feet are heavy and clumsy and the more I try to walk the worse they get and they develop fairly strong pins and needles.

    I was aware of numbness in my left foot before the peak of the pain but the walking problem was what I was left with after the peak pain. In fact the diminution of pain and the development of the walking problem seemed to occur simultaneously after I had lain extremely uncomfomably for the pelvis scan.

    L5/S1 is just what I suspect. But everything I try seems not to work. I've just been trying Nordic walking (with poles) which does enable me to walk further but does not improve the basic walking

     
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    Old 10-26-2016, 08:06 AM   #4
    teteri66
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    Re: Spine, feet and walking

    It sounds like compression of a lumbar spinal nerve. Were you checked for a spondylolisthesis? This is where one vertebra slips over the top of the adjacent vertebra. It can create instability in the spinal segment...L5-S1 in your case. Sometimes a nerve can get caught, resulting in leg pain, tingling, numbness and sometimes it affects the motion. The best way to diagnose this is with a flexion/extension x-ray.

     
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    Old 10-26-2016, 11:04 AM   #5
    mfulsac
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    Re: Spine, feet and walking

    [QUOTE=teteri66;5437411]It sounds like compression of a lumbar spinal nerve. Were you checked for a spondylolisthesis? This is where one vertebra slips over the top of the adjacent vertebra. It can create instability in the spinal segment...L5-S1 in your case. Sometimes a nerve can get caught, resulting in leg pain, tingling, numbness and sometimes it affects the motion. The best way to diagnose this is with a flexion/extension x-ray.[/QUOTE]

     
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    Old 10-26-2016, 11:34 AM   #6
    mfulsac
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    Re: Spine, feet and walking

    I have no 'foot drop' and those I have consulted found that my reflexes were OK.

    Looking up spondylolisthesis I find it fits my injury well. The peak of the pain was much worse than pain I've had from a herniated disc in the past and felt as if I had a torn hamstring at the same time which seems to be a possible symptom of spondylolisthesis. I see my GP next week and will ask him to send me for a flexion/extension X-ray as you suggest. Meanwhile I have looked up possible exercises and will start them. Many thanks for your thoughts so far.

    Presumably this would not have shown up on the MRI scan of my spine?

     
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    Old 11-02-2016, 12:31 PM   #7
    mfulsac
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    Re: Spine, feet and walking

    I had further discussion with my GP and we looked at the scan of my spine previously taken. We agreed that it shows slippage of L4 over L5. Which confirms your suggestion of spondylothesis. Obviously not bad enough for surgery. As I was very fit before the injury (and still fit enough to cycle) there seems nothing to be done except exercises and hope my walking improves.

     
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    Old 11-02-2016, 07:50 PM   #8
    teteri66
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    Re: Spine, feet and walking

    Well, I would have to disagree. My spondylolisthesis didn't appear that bad either...but the compression of the nerves gradually got worse and worse until I was pretty much housebound. Were you given a flexion/extension x-ray to determine if the spondylolisthesis was active...i.e., unstable?

     
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    Old 11-10-2016, 05:22 AM   #9
    mfulsac
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    Re: Spine, feet and walking

    I take the point that an X-ray with flexion/extension will show how unstable the spondylolisthesis is. There does seem to be instability because of the considerable variation from day to day (although it is not actually getting worse).
    Even if instability is present it is difficult to see what to do. I doubt it is at present bad enough to merit surgery. Past surgery has always taken me a very long time to get over. My GP now accepts that vertebral slippage is concerned and just tells me to do exercises to strengthen my lower back

    But I will go again to my GP to ask for this type of X-ray.

     
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