pain in lumbar spine, sciatica in left leg and throbbing in right leg with pins and needles in right foot

by amanda matthews

I had surgery three years ago to remove a spinal cyst and underwent subsequent lumbar laminectomy at level 2/3.

I was doing well for 18 months and then over time the pain returned and became worse. I currently suffer severe back pain and sciatica which is worse in the mornings and relieved by two tramodol and one co-codomol(which gets me into work and through the day)

Six months ago I was diagnosed with disc bulging in lumbar 4/5 and encouraged to strengthen my core stability.

I have tried to do this but haven't really kept it up.

I work as an Occupational Therapist and my day involves community based work ie home visits and periods of up to 2 hours on the computor. I occasionally cover traige duties and sit at a computor throughout the day.

For the past week I have been experiencing pins and needles in my right foot coupled with a cramp like throbbing pain which makes me feel occassionally sick.

The symptoms I currently experience are all made worse after periods of inactivity ie sitting in excess of 45 minutes or first thing in the morning however they are aggravated by walking or prolonged standing. I used to take my border collie on three hour wallks, now I am lucky if I manage 45 minutes.
Why has my Gp not mentioned Chiropractic intervention and do you think it would help.

Hello Amanda,
There's nothing simple about your tale of woe, I'm afraid. When you have symptoms in both legs, it's going to be complicated.

1. Accept that you are going to do back exercises EVERY morning for the rest of your life BEFORE you get out of bed. You give your teeth that amount of attention, why not your back?

At Chiropractic-Help you'll find some lumbar exercises. Start slowly, listen to your body and forget the core stuff for a bit until you're feeling a little better. Do the gentle stuff. Faithfully.

We Dutch have a nasty little saying: Those who not hear, must feel. Comprehendo? Every morning for the rest of your days. They take less than two minutes.

2. It's not coincidence that you have more problems when you sit. Lots of research confirming that sitting is the greatest enemy of the lower back. So sit less, especially when you don't have to sit. Don't sit and watch TV for example. Get on the carpet and do the exercises whilst you down there.

3. The fact that standing and walking cause pain suggest you may have a short leg. Ask someone to stand behind you, place their hands on your hips and compare. And insert in the shoe may help. See our Leg length inequality page. AGain, Sitesearch.

4. Don't bend. If you have to pick your shoe up, go down on ONE knee. One is usually better than the other.

5. Avoid the vacuum cleaner and broom, and absolutely no moving furniture or silly buggers. Be sensible.

6. Try and walk even if it's difficult. Hopefully an insert in the shoe may help. Regularly. If the dog tugs, and wants to chase cats, leave him at home.

Do all of that religiously, with great fervour, for a month or so, and see what happens. If there's zero progress, gather your scans, and start hunting for an experienced conscientious chiropractor. Be patient, Rome wasn't built in a day. Let us know you get on in a month or two.

I hope this has contributed.

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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