Leg Pain

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Last July 4th Nanook and I pulled into the driveway of our daughter’s house after a two day road trip.  Yeah, we made it, and we made it in time for the July 4th barbecue that included Anna Mae (daughter), JR (son-in-law), our grandson, and JR’s family.  As I climbed out of the car, I felt a sharp pain in the back of my left leg.  It was like a cramp, but the cramp would not release.  I thought the problem was just sitting behind the wheel of the car too long.  It’ll pass, I thought.  But it didn’t.  It was a constant companion for the whole visit, the two day road trip home, and the rest of the summer and fall.  The curious thing was that while the pain remained in the back of the left leg, it would appear in different areas of the leg.  Ibuprofen helped.  But it was there.  The odd thing was it would only appear when I stood or moved about.  Whenever I sat, all was good.  I decided I would live with it; it’s a natural effect of aging, right?

One morning in October I woke-up with a severe pain in my right knee, the opposite leg.  I called my doctor; she referred me to an orthopedic knee specialist.  He got me in right away.  X-rays showed some arthritis.  He shot the knee with cortisone, and ordered physical therapy.  The cortisone was a miracle, the pain was 90% gone within hours.  Yeah!!

Two days later I started physical therapy to improve knee function.  Andy, my physical therapist, noticed the additional problem of the left leg.  I told Andy the story.  He said I should see an orthopedic back doctor which I did.  The back doctor x-rayed my back and sent me off for an MRI.  The diagnosis?  Stenosis.  Stenosis is the shrinking of the back that encases the nerve root between the back and legs.  It restricts the movement of the nerves which causes the pain.  The doc sent me back to Andy for more physical therapy for the left leg.

While doing my twice-weekly PT sessions, my back doctor wanted to check the blood flow in my legs.  I saw another specialist who ordered a cat scan.  The results of the scan showed that the main artery of the RIGHT leg and a belly vein are completely blocked.  As I went into panic mode, the doctor told me it’s OK.  Most likely I have had this condition most of my life.  The body made corrections and created the required pathways for needed blood flow.  One more test is ordered to see if the legs are getting the required blood.  That test came back showing normal blood flow in the legs.  I now (along with my doctors) knew everything about my legs that is humanly possible, except one thing, the leg pain remained.  I’m sent back to Andy and more physical therapy.

Andy noticed something about my legs that I’ve known all my life.  My right leg is about ¾ of an inch shorter than my left.  The cumulative effect of this lifelong condition is that uneven pressure has been applied to my hips and legs.  Add in the stenosis and you have the answer to my leg pain problem.  Andy prescribed a set of exercises that I do at home that loosens the pressure caused by the stenosis.  He also fitted me with a set of orthotic shoe inserts to reduce the effects of the short leg.  I do the exercises daily and always use the shoes with the inserts.  I am happy to report the treatment works.

While I still experience some leg pain late in the evening, the worst is over.  It took quite an effort from the team of medical practitioners to arrive at a solution.  The rest is up to me.  I do my exercises every day, and always wear my corrected shoes.

Do you have a story you want to share?  rChance readers would like to read about it!

Remember, it’s rChance to Thrive, Every Day and in Every Way. 

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