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DrThomasMd, Board Certified MD
Category: Neurology
Satisfied Customers: 64314
Experience:  Internal medicine doctor, diagnose and treat neurology patients, many years
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My name is ***** ***** I want to thank you first for

Customer Question

My name is ***** ***** I want to thank you first for taking the time to help me.
I work from home. I own an online business, so I sit for most of the day and do engage in regular exercise (a bit vigorous from time to time).
I'm a 32 year-old male and I'm experiencing shooting pain throughout my left leg only: buttocks, back of the thigh, and behind the knee. I also have numbness in my left foot under my small pinky toe. I need help crafting a path to healing from where I am now to complete healing (whether that take weeks, months, or years).
I'm writing because lower back pain is so common, it's hard to diagnose, and there are so many ways to go wrong in your treatment that I just needed a professional to outline a basic path for me to have a sense of what kind of doctor I should see first, what I should be aware of etc. Here's my basic history around this.
Close to a year ago I was taking Judo. I'd been doing this for weeks with everything going fine. The day after one particular Judo class my lower back started to get this shooting pain with the pain continuing behind my left thigh. I thought it was a muscle sprain. I imagined it came from a sweeping leg move from when I was wrestling on the ground. After I would say 6 weeks time and foam rolling, I was back to normal with burning shooting pain that would return but disappear with proper rest, exercise, and stretching randomly.
I stopped Judo after the incident and returned to basic running and weight lifting. I took pain killers (tylenol, excedrin, old prescribed hydrocodone) for the first 4 or 5 days. Only the hydrocodone helped. Also, is pain an indication that you're making things worse? A lot of treatments are to deal with pain alone. I want to know, if the pain does climb to 8 but I can deal with it, can I just keep doing what I'm doing?
Fast forward to a little over 2 weeks ago. I started boxing about 10 weeks prior and I can't pinpoint it as the cause but the pain returned so great (9 out of 10) that I couldn't stand upright, walk, or sleep for about 3 days. For a few days prior to this extreme pain (3 or 4 days) I started to feel my back get a little more and more strained, very mild to start though. I didn't exercise when I felt the pain start and just went about my normal activity and then it crescendoed to that morning when I woke up and couldn't believe the pain.
Right now, when I sit, the pain essentially disappears (though the foot numbness is always there and a little bit of lower back pain is there) and when I stand, it's sometimes immediate or the pain builds over time. It used to radiate down to my calf and the numbness on my foot felt larger but now the calf pain is nearly gone. I can stay up for about 3 minutes before the pain becomes strong enough to make me sit down (7 to 8 out of 10). I can stand upright now but when I lay in bed if I lay on my back with my legs straight the pain starts to build behind my knee (8 out of 10) until I lay on my side. This helps bring down the pain so I can sleep. Though I still wake up around twice a night because of the pain.
Thanks for taking the time to read all of that in detail. What I hope now is for a chart of what to do and how to do it to get fully healed: books to read, sites to visit, treatments to consider, and the order of who to see. For example,
Avoid these because they're scams: (e.g. DRX 9000)
Combine these treatments:
Do this: see a doctor, get an MRI, take it . . .
I don't have insurance so I pay out of pocket and am inclined to believe in non-standard treatments than standard treatments. For example, I would rather meditate than take pain killers and see a chiropractor or acupuncturist than a doctor. It's just my bias but I know it is so I want to go against that bias and consult a doctor first to outline the best path. There's nothing that can take away the power of someone who cares who's dedicated their life to studying the body and how to heal it.
If you could let me know the best places to go for help (doctors and clinics you recommend) etc. I'm planning on seeing a physiatrist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York for my first stage or seeing a chiropractor or acupuncturist first. This experience really scared me because I'm active and to know that something like this can return or worsen and I can be bed-ridden for days or weeks and not be able to move for more than a few minutes at a time frightens me, especially the horror stories of living with this forever.
However, I'm going to take care of myself and improve, so the time you spend responding and helping me will be well spent. I'll take great care to learn and use it as my base of healing to get my life back and better :)
A tremendous thanks again. Joseph
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Neurology
Expert:  DrThomasMd replied 2 years ago.
I am very familiar with this situation.
Your first step is a physiatrist, not a chiropractor or anyone else.
An MD physiatrist will give you a structural diagnosis, which is what you need.
This will either lead to the correct physical therapy or imaging of the lower spine, which is where the problem is.
OR, an EMG/NCS which is an office test.
OK, so that is an initial answer….
Please use reply to expert if you have further questions. When you are ready, please click a positive rating [hopefully excellent]. If you forgot something, come back. I am here daily.