New onset leg weakness, stiffness, loss of balance and urinary incontinence
Four years ago I developed lumbar spinal stenosis while working as an ICU RN. After months of PT, rest and changing my job, my follow up MRI showed that the stenosis had resolved. My MRI was "Normal" but I was left with some mild, permanent nerve damage at L4-L5 (according to an nerve conduction study). It caused numbness and sensitivity along my outer left thigh and some weakness in my left leg.
About four months ago I started to have increased weakness in my left leg. It caused left hip and knee problems. Around the same time I started to experience urinary urgency and incontinence (I'm female w/ no children). Along with the weakness I had pain, significant loss of balance, gait disturbance, and muscle stiffness. I had to use a cane and crutches at times. About six weeks after it all started I stepped outside one day and felt a "pop" along my lateral knee/thigh and was unable to bear weight for several days.
Now the same problems have started in my right leg. My mobility has been severely limited. I have significant muscle stiffness (around knees and calves), muscle spasms, weakness, balance problems, gait problems, urinary urgency w/ incontinence, shooting electric pain along my LEFT thigh and heat/hot sensations on the bottom of my RIGHT foot. I'm unable to walk very far and have to rely on a cane. My legs feel heavy and are difficult to move.
These symptoms are all new-within in the last 4 months. Is it possible these symptoms are an indication that the spinal stenosis has returned and worsened? With the urinary incontinence will I need surgery? I'm also worried it is not my back at all but something else like MS. I don't have health insurance at the moment, and I don't know what to do. Please advise!! (should note I'm a 38 yr old female, severly obese--about 120lbs overweight with diabetes, HTN, sleep apnea, high chol, and 21 hydroxyase defiency)
Yes, these symptoms do indicate an issue at the spinal level such as spinal stenosis. Though it could be MS, it doesn’t classically sound the issue here. An intervention/ surgery would probably be required, though this can only be decided post a detailed clinical evaluation and imaging study such as the MRI. I would suggest trying to get medical insurance as soon as possible and consulting a neurologist/ neurosurgeon/ orthopedician for an evaluation and appropriate management. It might also be a good idea to check with the social services department in your area if they would be able to help you with the matter.
Hope this is helpful.
Thank you for your response. I appreciate it. Although I pretty much know what I need to do it helps to have medical professional confirm it. I will work on getting insurance and a proper medical diagnosis. The ironic thing is that I'm on disability (for an entirely different problem) and will be released to go back to work (and get insurance) in March, but how can I work with the problems I currently have? It's a catch-22. Anyway, thank you again for your response and advice. I just pray I don't end up with permanent nerve damage because I have waited so long. Christine
Could you please provide an update on your condition? My husband is having the same complications as you. He had surgery on his back (T 4 and 5) about a month ago but is still progressing on a downward slope. He walks worse now than before the surgery. I am very afraid this might be ALS and we are wasting time chasing the wrong thing.
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