Pinch in low left back, down left leg

Pic of MRI of low back in October

Pic of MRI of low back in October

A spine doctor ordered x-ray and MRI in October, found Spondy and a couple discs with minor protrusion. Due to significant pain, family sent me to a chiropractor at the beginning of December. I have been in twice a week, once a week, and am now waiting two weeks. The pain has decreased but still pinching and radiating down my leg to tingling in my toes from the time I stand up in the a.m.

I was not told not to sit (as I read was part of healing for Mr. Volleyball), just rest. I have been sitting a lot. I have had 3 stretches to do and heat, that I do twice a day: lay flat and bring knee to chest, lay flat and bring knee over to opposite side, and lay with knees bent while pushing tummy down and curling low back.

He just added a 2 inch hip/buttock raise from this position.

I read how surgery can fail and result in no resolution. Is there anything you would recommend? Do you agree with the stretches? Should what I am still feeling be resolved by now, after around 8-10 visits? What should I expect next?

Happy birthday to me. I just turned 40, delivered 4 children in the past 17 years, and do not shy away from laborious work....until now. Help.

In Christ,

Nice to meet another Believer, K, that means your chiropractors has some extra guidance in his hands, whether he's a Christian or not.

A spondylolysthesis was caused by a fall a long time ago that fractured the 'pars' in your lower back; probably in early childhood when still cartilage. Nothing is going to 'cure' it. It needs care, daily exercises and some management; most of all that you do yourself.

I recommend hubby or one of those four lovely kids do the vacuuming from now on; absolutely no lifting of the grand piano!

The hardest part is not to sit; everyone finds it difficult, and yes it's important. Find a place where you can perch with your legs dangling down, feet still on the floor. Choose your chairs carefully, they will tell you which are bad, but generally just sit much less. Take regular short lie downs during the day and do the exercises.

The exercises look fine. You'll get some more difficult ones in the future.

You say the pain is lessening; by how much? In particular how much less is the pain in the leg.

The Slump test for sciatica will give you a measure of the improvement. Find it in the navigation bar at Chiropractic Help.

If the leg pain is 50% less then you can be well pleased. Just continue with what your chiropractor recommends.

Blessings, let me know how you get on, and at what level the Slump test gives pain.

If you need to pick up a toothbrush, go down on one knee.

Dr B

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Dec 21, 2018
3 mo post op
by: Anonymous

Dr. B,

I am officially 3 months post fusion. I am doing great without the nerve pain that I had. I'm having issues with flexibility and nerve sticking, and lifting my knees past 90°. MRI results today for an explanation. My blood pressure is back to normal, as well.

I wanted to send you a Merry Christmas! Mine is much merrier this year compared to last year. Hope you are Blessed in the coming year. Thank you for sharing in my nerve pain story. This chapter may soon be over. Hopefully, the next chapter will never be written, or atleast not for 30+years.

In Christ. K

Oct 26, 2018
5 weeks post op
by: Anonymous

Dr. B,

Thank you for your reply.

The nerve pain I had is gone!! Although, I do feel pain to the touch of my quad and posterior calf. I have severe tightening of muscles in the affected leg and less in the opposite leg.

I have been told it will be a while for the residual healing of the nerve.

Thank you talking with me through this process. I will let you know the day I am totally healed.

Happy HOLYdays!

It's great to see light at the end of you tunnel. Look at this as a three month process at least, otherwise just another setback and more frustration.

No housework alas, all bending and twisting to be completely avoided.

Choose your chairs carefully, sit less, and avoid the couch.

Say your prayers! I will too.

Dr B

Sep 30, 2018
Post fusion surgery 2 wk
by: Anonymous

Dr. B,

I had the anterior and posterior fusion surgery. I am 14 days post op. I have felt some sensations in the same area as the nerve pain in my back, hip, and leg, but the PT says it might be the way I slept. For the most part, I have not felt it. I'm also extremely inactive. Normal activity. Seeing the doctor this week the check on how healing is going.

Hello again, K,
When you see the doctor, ask when you can start doing gentle exercises, and which are appropriate. I always recommend a warm up routine before getting out of bed in the morning.

A daily walk would be a good idea when you're allowed out; watch you don't trip or stumble. Keep to even ground initially.

That nerve has been quite severely traumatised, so ongoing sensations in the leg are to be expected initially. Lyrica might help if it's actually painful.

Expect this to take some months, K; don't champ at the bit and obviously your overly busy lifestyle must go for ever!


Dr B

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Aug 08, 2018
by: Anonymous

Dr. B,

I had a Myelogram in July. After review, I am scheduled for spinal fusion surgery in September. Anterior for the cage and posterior for the rods. Prayers appreciated.


Jun 19, 2018
Need a 3rd...
by: Anonymous

I'm sorry to say Doc B, I did it to myself.

After my second shot, I was doing okay but I was not pushing it too much, either. I thought I was going to be okay. Our VBS time came and it was back to my old activity, up, down , all around, bending, squatting, and some lifting and pulling. It shot out what ever progress was made. It got worse as I continued on with life and daily requirements. I have an appointment with the doctor.

I know. You told me so. I'm just letting you know, you were right. I will remember your words of wisdom when it's too late. It's just hard to not do life and work as usual. It's depressing to think I can not live free to do my heart's desire and wonder how will I do what I need to do for work and family...and future little family. I need to be active and useful.

Until next time....maybe I will be bedridden. I have not been doing what I need to do...I need constant scorning.

Don't be too hard on yourself; your past history is not unusual at all; no hyperactives find the brake pedal easily.

It's the future that counts; are you going to go on making the same mistake again and again? Then you're in for failed chiropractic care, or failed back surgery.

Christians find it especially difficult to find balance in their lives; they have all the demands of family and work, which are quite sufficient, thank you very much, plus those of the church; and that's when the wheels fall off.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Say the prayer every morning before getting out of bed whilst doing your back exercises. And then obey the still small voice. Anything less is disobedience and sin.

God bless.

Dr B

Apr 12, 2018
Second shot...set back....
by: Anonymous

Hello Dr B,

You will not be happy with me, doctor. Of course, I forgot what you said about longer to heal than the pain lasts after having the shot. SO... My plate is full again, teaching preschoolers 6 days a week, my five people and 3 animals at home, coaching kids ball, managing the concession stand, running AWANA preschool one night a week, and volunteering at the school and at church....
My pain is in full today. I have noticed it began around L4, though. Mild, then moderate and more frequent, to now constant and mod/sev. The shot was and will be again at L5/S1 in 4 days. I have a call in to Dr about the L4 pain/pinch. Am I right that it pinches the Femoral nerve, goes through anterior hip to thigh and down near ankle and beyond? Can the nerve be caught in the cracked pars? It literally feels like a constant pinch or like a blister makes itself known AFTER the activity.
I know, you told me so. When will you whippersnappers ever learn?
I just can't slow down yet. I have too much to do with my time.

Bending at the knee is a savior. The body pillow does still help. I don't think I'm slowing down enough. I will let you know when I have "learned" something. Lol. My study is coming along but occasionally misplaced, that may be why my pain has returned.

Remember, if you're a Christian, that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit; it's where God dwells. That means you need to treat it reverently and kindly.

Even without a lower back and radiating nerve condition, you are doing far too much. I recognise it because I'm a kindred spirit; thirty years ago we would have been put on Ritalin!

"Be still" and "wait" are not easy for hyperactives for us to learn, but learn we must. If you don't put the brakes on yourself, no one else can, then you're in for a huge back operation, plates and screws and for at least three months, probably six, you will be doing none of that stuff.

So, sit down with hubby, invite the Good Lord to have a look in, and write down all the activities that consume you. Star those that are central, and put a heavy BBB pencil line through the rest. At least half needs to go, probably more, for about two months; particularly that which involves sitting, bending and twisting.

Do it. It's not me that matters, and whether I'm happy with you or not; it's you and your family, and God; they are the ones you are answerable to.

That cortisone shot is probably not helpful; it's just enabling you to go on at break-neck speed, and any minute you're about to hit a speed wobble; then the wheels fall off.

Blessings. Don't forget the exercises and alternating ice and heat; vital at this time. Before you get out of bed.

Dr B

Mar 18, 2018
After the shot...
by: Anonymous

Since I received the shot, the pain in my leg and piriformis have decreased significantly, to an almost occasional part of my day, also in part to my limited movement. I felt perfect after the shot, then each day following I regained more of the sensations I was having. Now, I feel twinges of pain mostly in my low back with some numbing (as opposed to continuous) in my thigh and lower left calf. I have felt what seems to be something moving in my back but I'm guessing it's the shot fluid or could I actually be feeling the broken/sliding parts???

I used to, meaning a year ago, be able to stretch like a cat to help relieve the significant lower back pain but in doesn't do anything anymore.

I am limited in my own normal activities , but I am/have been called the energizer bunny, so my normal is constant and on the go activity, which included many bags on my shoulders and possibly a child on the hip while running to the next event....I am now more like a princess in that I don't even carry my own purse bc the weight hurts. I carry my royal chair cushion to sit on. I don't move desks or tables and chairs, I try not to hang anything from the ceilings...I do not twist my body around, or reach out my foot to hold a door open.... I walk tall, straight, and slow like a royal. I hate it. I hate having to be served. I hate asking for help.

I have an appointment Wed with the doctor's office. I think he will put me back on PT "to strengthen my core to support the weak (broke) area." I can't afford the PT so I will have to do it on my own.

I will update how this progresses further. In the meantime I am starting a new study on Worship. Maybe the Lord has something He is trying to tell me. ☺

Oh, good news you are a Believer; I always kid that they usually get better much quicker and I get the credit; in all seriousness, seek the wisdom of God in this. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and needs to be cherished.

No one finds it easy to slow down or stop, but it's a vital part of healing; the pain decreases faster than actual healing of tissue, especially when helped with cortisone; you are on thin ice, so be really careful. Sit less, don't bend but go down on one knee to pick something up, no vacuum cleaner or broom, try very hard not to sneeze. Do the exercises. Increase them VERY slowly with the above in mind.

As you brush your teeth twice a day, you are in for lower back exercises every morning before arising, and last thing in the evening for the rest of your life. I do them myself. In fact everyone should.

Can you lift your big toe and stand on your toes on that leg?

Is the Slump test for sciatica still positive?

Take it very frustratingly slowly, energetic bunny, or you'll have a set back.

God bless,

Dr B

Feb 16, 2018
Body pillow
by: Anonymous

Sleeping with a pillow between the feet and knees, hugging a "body pillow", has been amazing.

PT has been stopped bc normal activity and the stretching aggravates it. I'm scheduled for the steroid injection. This may temporarily help the pain but I doubt will contribute much in say two months time, even a few weeks.

I will update after....

Keep doing those back exercises. Gently.

Feb 01, 2018
by: Anonymous

Thank you very much for responding to my post, Dr B.

Slump Test...I'm not sure if I'm doing it correctly but pain is in the low left side L4 and tremendous pain in left calf where tingling flows to big toe. Strongly positive test, suggesting probable L4/L5 problem, but yes could be at L5/S1

The PT said it is from the Spondy and the pain from sitting is referred pain from the SI L5 where slippage is occurring. My Piriformis is the worst. My calf is second. Then my tired low back pain comes in at 3rd place. So I limp as if it will stop the pain. Limping is very significant as it may mean paresis is developing. Using the site search function look up the Leg pain muscle testing page. Is there weakness of the big toe, or the calf?

Anyway, thanks again.

I guess I shouldn't be sitting as you said but the Belfry has my attention. One can read lying down!

Feb 01, 2018
After 8 Weeks
by: Anonymous

My Chiro popped something in my lower back and my pain decreased for several days. He said he thinks is the Spondylolisthesis (grade 1-2) has more to do with my pain than he originally thought. He reviewed the MRI report after 8 weeks. He told me to come back when I needed him....I saw my Spine doctor yesterday. He ordered PT. Saw PT today and he thinks he will be able to help me. I'm not sure what my Chiro did in the last 8 weeks, but he did get me out of really bad pain into more manageable pain. We will see what PT does.
By the way, your book Bats in my Belfry is pretty interesting so far.

That gladdens my heart, thank you. If you really enjoy Bats, would you write a review on Amazon please.

The research on spondys is equivocal, but I think they are often very significant, mostly the level above.

I can't quite figure out if your chiro helped you so much that he didn't suggest ongoing maintenance care; a few clicks are not going to fix a difficult back with leg pain.

See what the PT can do.

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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