Severe lower back pain and numbness in one toe

by jennifer
(st. ignace, MI)

Does raising the leg cause pain? Where, be precise?

Does raising the leg cause pain? Where, be precise?

Recently I injured my back by simply trying to pick something up off of the floor. When I bent over I felt a pop and could not stand straight up due to severe pain. I am the type that waits a few days (5 to be exact) to go to my doctor. She suggested x-rays and an MRI. The x-rays were taken today and she called to tell me that there is no significant changes in the dysplasia in my back (I'm not sure what that means).

My question is, if the x-ray shows nothing significant should I just go with the pain and not bother with the MRI?

Hello Jennifer,
I'm not sure what dysplasia in your back means either; it's normally a term applied to the hip. But no significant change to presumably previous x-rays is what is important.

Is your toe actually numb, or does it just feel that way. Ask hubby to prick both with a needle; is there a significant difference?

Which toe, by the way? That gives important information as to the location of the injury. Do you have any slipped disc symptoms? Does bearing down on the toilet or sneezing hurt for example?

Sitting in a normal kitchen chair, ask hubby to slowly raise your good leg parallel to the ground. Remember what you feel. Now drop that one, and raise the naughty leg; what happens now? Tell me as precisely as you can.

Is your overall condition improving? Can you turn better in bed, dress more easily and is the numbness in your foot abating?

Answers to all these questions help to make the decision whether to go for the MRI; it's always useful but very expensive.

Waiting a few days is often not a bad thing, but if you had pain in the chest on the left side, sweating and tingling down your arm, would you delaying going to the doctor? Of course not. You probably have a slipped disc and the sooner it's reduced, we think with chiropractic manipulation, the less likely you are to end up with a difficult outcome.

Meantime, use ice for pain control, don't bend and sit much less, or not at all; do the gentle slipped disc exercises you'll find in the navigation bar at chiropractic help every hour.

I hope all this contributes.

Dr B

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Jan 12, 2017
Reply to Doc
by: Jennifer

Thank you so much for replying to my question. It is my middle toe on my left foot. I cannot feel anything pricking it when my husband sticks the needle into it. As for sitting in a chair and raising my leg, I am not able to sit on any hard surfaces because the pain is so excruciating. I endure a tremendous amount of pain when I sit on the toilet without bearing down at all. I can't turn in bed.

I am also experiencing some weakness in my left leg. I'm just all around uncomfortable and full of pain. My physician did give me some pain medication and muscle relaxers but they are not helping in the least. I'm hoping that it is nothing serious.

I think you know this is serious, Jennifer, so acknowledge it. Having had previous x-rays I'm assuming this is a further development of what started some time back.

The progression to the leg with numbness and weakness is known as 'hard neurological signs'. It is seriously, so follow our slipped disc rules carefully; in particularly don't sit; it's very painful in any case.

Weakness more usually affects either the ability to raise the heel, or stand on your toes, raise your big toe, or the knee starts to give on the stairs and when walking. Which is it? Did you doctor test your reflexes or just give you analgesics; as you say they don't usually touch this kind of pain.

The numbness in the middle toe is rather unusual; more usually it either affects the big toe area, or the little toe and side of the foot.

Watch out for loss of bladder control; a very serious but rare sign.

All in all, it's over a week now I suspect; I think that MRI would be in order.

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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