Leg pain hurts more than when I started

by greg
(los angeles, ca usa)

Exactly where in the leg does it hurt?

Exactly where in the leg does it hurt?

I have a pinched nerve coming from my lower back and radiating pain down my leg. I started to see a chiropractor last week and he asked me to come in every other day to work on me because my muscles are so tight. As well as adjusting me, he has been working on my legs with deep tissue type massage. At the time it is painful but then I seem to feel some relief.

He says my TFL is sprained, if that means anything? Tonight (day 3 of treatment) I'm in so much pain I'm struggling to sleep! I'm starting to worry I'm making the problem worse! Is it normal to"get worse before it gets better?" Who/ what speciality do I go to next if this chiropractor isn't working out?!

Hello Greg,
Your concerns are legitimate. However, you've only had two treatment so it's early days.

If you said to me, as your chiropractor, that you were getting worse, not better, I'd reevaluate my treatment protocol.

Was I adjusting the correct level?

Would it make a difference if I was adjusting you lying on one side only, and which side?

Would traction, or doing drops on the pelvis only be a better option?

Are there x-rays, and should an MRI be considered?

There are a lot of ifs and buts with leg pain, particularly if you leg hurts more than your back, and it takes a thoughtful cooperation between chiropractor and patient to find the formula that fits for you.

If your chiropractor heeds your concern that you are getting worse with his first two treatments, is concerned, then work with him.

If he brushes your complaints off, and you're in and out in five minutes, then vote with your feet, is my advice.

With severe leg pain, if it's truly a pinched nerve, then what I call massaging bed rest with exercises is often necessary; you can't simply continue on with your normal routine; severe leg pain means you are on the verge of surgery. So take it seriously.

Obviously I have no clue as to the clinical details, but as a rule of thumb, chiropractors excel in the treatment of lower back and leg pain; but it does take that tricky relationship between you and your chiropractor to achieve a successful outcome.

If he's listening to you, and you can see that he's thinking, stick with him. If not, go elsewhere. An MRI would be a good start.

Let me know how you get on.

Dr B



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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I've left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he's happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He's doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost painfree. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he's well pleased; sixty five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he's taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily walk has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. Xrays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65 year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88 year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done.  

10. Mr X is a 71 year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a year ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38 old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he couldn't sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71 year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.



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