Severe pain in lower left leg

Hi, I’m currently suffering from Piriformis Syndrome on my left side. For over 5 years I’ve been experiencing shooting/stabbing pain in one spot in my lower leg, on the outside, about 3 inches above my ankle. It’s intermittent and strikes randomly. Some episodes are tolerable, while others send me down to the ground whimpering in pain. I explain it to friends like there is a small troll that follows me around all day and every now then, stabs me with a thin, long, sharp knife in the same spot on my lower left leg.

Here’s where it gets interesting. A constant, nerve like pain has appeared in the same spot where I would get my flare ups. This pain is triggered when I touch the area. Whether I touch it with my hands, my pant legs, sheets or running water. The slightest touch on that specific area (about the size of a pencil eraser) sends a radiating, nerve like pain similar to the flare ups I’ve received in the past.

So, I’ve been laid up for a couple weeks afraid to shower, sleep or even wear pants. I can’t put on boots or wear high socks. It’s seriously affecting my life at this point. It’s as if a nerve ending came to the surface of my skin and is just hanging around. Any idea what this is? I want to begin therapy on my piriformis, but this acute pain is holding me back. I’ve used topical creams, NSAIDs, and ice. None seem to help.

Please share if you have any idea what is happening. My Neurologist has no idea what it is.


Dan Weiss

Hello Dan,
Yes, certainly interesting. A couple questions.

Your age?
Do you have back pain?
If you bend straight forward, is the pull in both legs the same?
If you bend backwards and sideways, do you get any pain in the back or down in the lower leg?
Use the Search this site function at chiropractic help to find the Slump test. Does it reproduce the pain in your leg?
Standing on your left leg, can you raise your big toe? Stand on your toes?

Let me have your answers, keeping to this thread.

Dr B

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Feb 13, 2017
Lower left leg
by: Anonymous

I have some pain in my left lower back. After walking and especially just standing, I get pain to my left front side of my calf area and my left foot goes numb. I can sit for a little bit and feel I'm getting circulation back.

This is possibly due to circulation, but probably not. If it's a nerve pain, then sitting in a kitchen chair, gently flexing the head onto the chest, and then straightening the leg will reproduce the calf pain; compare with the right leg.

Take special note of which toes are affected.

When it goes down the leg then I recommend you don't delay but get professional advice on your condition; you can end up with a permanent foot drop. Can you raise you big toe and raise your heel, taking your full weight?

Start our lower back exercises which you'll find in the navigation bar at Chiropractic Help; every morning before getting out of bed.

See someone soon. A thorough examination is needed.

Dr B

Jan 16, 2014
by: Dan

I don't have any back pains, except for the average stiffness here and there. Sure, it hurts after a day of work, but this is more of a fatigue pain, as if I just worked it too hard. But these pains are tolerable and don't translate down my leg. I cannot reproduce the sharp, shooting pain no matter what position I'm in.

The only time I was able to do so, is when I roll around on a lacrosse ball, in my buttock area. The pain would radiate from the left side of my lower left leg, and sometimes on my shin, just above the ankle.

On my last visit to my Neurologist, he told me that I have a slight bulging disc in on the left side of my L5. He also said that the topical pain is from Neuroma, or a cyst on my nerve sheath. But he has no clue how this occurred. And wasn't completely sold on his diagnosis. Neither am I.

He wasn't convinced that my pain was a result of my back issues and didn't talk about the shooting pains I get. He ruled out Sciatica and Piriformis Syndrome. He actually was more focused on the topical pain in my leg. He shot me up with Lidocaine all around that area, which numbed it quite well. Shortly after, I was able to touch it without creating that pain. However, I still got some shooting pain everyday for a few days. It was minor and not all that painful, but it was there indeed. He also put me on Gralise. I feel that these meds are diminishing the pain. So, It's been about a week on the Gabapentin and I am pain free. However, I'm still hesitant on touching my leg to confirm the pain is totally gone. I have been sleeping on the opposite side and avoiding any touch in that area. I just fear it will hurt, and I'm so afraid of feeling this pain again. I've been stretching like a mad man for about 45 min everyday. I bought a piece of equipment that's like an inversion table, but more for the lower back. I've been decompressing my lower back for only 60 seconds at a time, twice a day. I've also began a core strengthening regimen which is about 45 minutes every other day. So, the bottom line is, I'm not totally happy with my Neurologist. He only addressed one pain, the topical pain. The meds have suppressed both pains, so I can't tell if my stretching, decompressing, and exercising are actually helping me at all. One thing to note, I pressed very hard (by accident) on my left shin and BOOM, I got a nasty pain. Once I stopped, the pain disappeared. I know that what I'm doing to be proactive in my healing is helpful, but I'm still wondering what causes my pains. I would assume that when I'm off the Gabapentin the topical pains will return, and possibly the shooting pains as well. I understand that you can't help much without seeing my MRI results. Thanks for reading this.

Hello Dan,
Please do that Slump Test and other little tests, and let me have the result. May have to shorten this.

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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