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Does Disc prolapse or Degenerative disk disease cause tingling in feet, sore knees and tightness in thighs ?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2004
Answered : 1777 Questions
37 Year Old.
190 Pounds, 5'11"
Good Health, Workout 3 times a week.
About 3.5 months ago, I noticed tingling in both feet. It didn't go away, so I went to a Neurologist. Thinking possible MS or something worse! He did MRI of my head & lumbar. Found no lesions or any sign of inflammation. Told me I didn't have MS. The Radiologist did report and found a protrusion on the L5 Nerve Root. Digenerative Disk Disease as well, but all on the Right Side. At this point the tingling died down a bit, but I had an uncomfortable tightness in my Right Thigh & numbness at my tailbone! The Neurologist recommended an Orthopedic Back Specialist. I went and we did EMG/NCS. No Neuropathies or abnormalities shown. 2 weeks ago did a Steriod injection in my back & it did relieve my back symptoms. Only thing is.... My tightness is now in both thighs, cramping has started in my calves & both knees are extremely (not all of the time) sore! I am taking Advil (400mg), xanax (to calm my nerves) & I've been using BenGay (which relieves a lot of the pain, for a minimum amount of time).
I'm completely frustrated by all of this as anyone would be. Today my symptoms are tingling feet (both), sore knees & an uncomfortable tightness in both thighs!

I would appreciate your opinion, if possible.

Posted Mon, 30 Apr 2012 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar 3 hours later

Thanks for the query

I had gone through your problems and I understand you are in distress. First of all I understand you have a disc prolapse and I am not sure how large the disc bulge is...and I want to know few more things about your situation
1.How is your walking? do you have pain/tingling while walking? If so does it start from above downwards or below upwards?
2.Do you feel comfortable when you bend forward without bending your knees and bending backwards?
3.Are you a regular drinker?
4.Have you done your uric acid, serum CPK, SODIUM, POTTASSIUM,CALCIUM, VIT D ,PTH levels?

In some case the steroid injections cannot be a complete answer to all the symptoms.

The answer to my questions are important to give you better advice. Please reach me back with the answers.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Does Disc prolapse or Degenerative disk disease cause tingling in feet, sore knees and tightness in thighs ? 9 hours later
Dr. Kumar-

I appreciate your response! The following are answers to the questions you asked:

1) I am able to walk (as I swim often & can ride an exercise bike in excess of 6+ miles), but with the pain/tingling. I haven't gone running in months because of the pain. Those symptoms never seem to go away. The sensations that I feel are from (I believe, as it's hard to tell sometimes) the lower back downward. When I sit, I feel like both of my legs go numb & the tingling intensifies. When I stand too long, I feel like my legs get tired easily, my knees get sore & my thighs start to tighten up.

2) I do feel seemingly comfortable when I bend forward & backwards. No back pain, BUT when I bend forward to touch my toes I do feel like there is a hypersensitivity in the stretch of my thighs & there is definitely an increase in the tingling in my feet.

3) I am a binge/social drinker. I don't drink daily, but do have regular drinks on the weekends. The average drink count varies widely! Lately, I have been drinking a little more often (2 drinks a night for the past month) because it does help decrease the pain, etc.

4) I did have a my annual checkup with my internist about 2 months ago and he mentioned that my TCell count was normal & Vitamin D/B-12 levels were good. Not sure about Uric Acid, CPK, Sodium, Pot/Calcium/PTH levels though?

I know it's hard to give advice in this forum (as I'm not your patient), but I did want you to read the "Conclusion" from the Radiologist's report & my EMG/NCS.

Lumbar MRI (4-18-2011):
*(1) Mild Degenerative Disc Disease at L5-S1 with a small right foraminal disc protrusion abutting the intraforaminal right L5 nerve root. There is also an asymmetrical right facet arthropathy.
(2) Mild right facet arthropathy at L3-L4 and L4-L5.

EMG/Nerve Conduction (5-19-2011):
** (1) Normal Study
(2) There is no evidence of lumbar radiculopathy, plexopathy or any
peripheral neuropathic process.

Once again, your advice is appreciated!

Take Care.

Answered by Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar 24 hours later

Thank you for your detailed description of your symptoms.

Analysis of your symptom complex, most likely you are having lumbar spondylosis with stenosis and facetal syndrome. Your sensations of tingling is due to the facetal syndrome and tiredness could be due to spinal stenosis. Pain is part of spondylosis and facetal arthritis.

You may be relieved by a local anaesthetic injection to the facets, then it usually confirms the source of pain. But you also have a disc bulge which could also be a source of pain.

Having said these points, I think you have to try everything before you go in for a surgical procedure. MRI Scans do not pick up ALL the real pictures at times(its a software driven investigation and not infallable) and I think that your disc problem is actually worse than what's being reported. Meanwhile you could try stretching exercises and back care exercises.

At times gouty arthritis of spine(raised uric acid) could give all sorts of problems and we should not miss it, as it can be effectively controlled with drugs. So get your uric acid level checked. If you continue to have problems even after 8-12 weeks, please get it examined by a spine surgeon.

Hope this answers your query. In case of any doubts, I am available for the follow ups.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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