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severe hip pain that goes down left leg & causes need for walker
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severe hip pain that goes down left leg & causes need for walker

this past Saturday morning i awoke with hip pain radiating down my left leg that prevents me from walking without the aid of a walker.  Even with a walker, it is very difficult to walk with the severe pain.  I have been taking 2 Aleve with 3 extra strength tylenol and in about an hour i get a small bit of relief.  The pain is constant and is somewhat less when i am reclining in bed without movement or sitting without movement while trying to put all weight on right hip.  When walking with the walker--which is the only possible way for me to be ambulatory-- the pain is severe and constant.,  If it wasnt so painful and difficult for me to move, i would have already been to the doctor.This has been going on for two days and i see no improvement at all.  I am 64 and obese...weigh 310  lbs at 5'5"
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Avatar_dr_m_tn
Thanks for using the forum. I am happy to address your questions, and my answer will be based on the information you provided here. Please make sure you recognize that this forum is for educational purposes only, and it does not substitute for a formal office visit with a doctor.

Without the ability to examine and obtain a history, I can not tell you what the exact cause of the symptoms is. However I will try to provide you with some useful information.

There is a material that cushions the space between the bones of the spine (i.e., vertebra). This material may sort of be squished out from in between the two bones; this is called a herniated disc. The disc may push on surrounding structures, namely the spinal cord and/or the nerves exiting from the spinal cord. Most often, it is the nerves that are pressed on, and not the spinal cord itself.

In most people, the pain of a herniated disk resolves over 4-6 weeks. The most severe pain actually eases up within 1-2 weeks. Only a minority of people every require surgery. With time, the amount of disk that has herniated shrinks and with time resolves completely in most people. Therefore, for the majority of people, non-surgical treatment is the first option. This treatment may include medications (non-steroidals such as advil), sometimes steroids if there is swelling (edema), temperature therapy (hot or cold packs), stretching and controlled physical therapy, muscle relaxants, and so on, these are best prescribed by an experienced physician, each has its own indications.

In a minority of patients, surgery needs to be done urgently. This often is the case when the herniated disc is pressing on the spinal cord itself. Surgery is emergent so that permanent spinal cord injury does not occur. Another indication for urgent surgery is if there evidence that a nerve is being compressed on to the point that its function is impaired. Symptoms suggesting the need for urgent surgery include muscle weakness, loss of bowel or bladder control, loss of sensation, particularly in the pelvis and severe and progressive pain.

Typically, an MRI of the lower back is performed to evaluate the structural causes of the pain syndrome. Once established, assessing whether or not the nerve being pressed on by your herniated disc is impaired is by a test called EMG/NCS. This type of test is done by neurologists in most centers.

In some patients, after conservative non-surgical therapy is tried for 4-6 weeks and the pain is still severe or if other symptoms/indications arise, surgery is the next step.

It would be best for you to discuss surgical and non-surgical options with your physician.

Thank you for this opportunity to answer your questions, I hope you find the information I have provided useful, good luck.

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