Need Advice from all you back guys!


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**WARNING** long story ahead!!!

So, I've had weakness in my left leg since 2005 (first documeneted by flight doc) which has gradually gotten worse. In Nov 2009, I was walking on ND campus from the parking lot to the stadium when my left leg went numb, started getting very weak (visible limp and I had to hold on to a friend just to get to the park bench to rest). It was accompanied by a sharp shooting pain from my lowerback thru the back of my leg down to my foot. I went to Flight Surgeon after thanksgiving break who put me on profile and ordered physical therapy (PT).

During my inital intake for PT, it was discovered that I had hyprereflexia and extreme weakness in my left thigh and calf. MRI's of my brain, neck and entire spine were ordered. The results of the MRIs shows mild degenerative discs C3 thru C7/T1, arthritis and a slightly buldging disc at my L5/S1.

Feburary rolls around and they do an evaluation at PT to see how I am progressing. The hyperreflexia is gone but the weakness in the left leg is still there. Worse yet, it gets aggravated by strenous movements (walking fast or for a long duration/running etc...).
No it's to the point where it will go weak at random times without a trigger.

Concerned that I might have a Upper Motor Neuron disease I was sent to a neurologist who did her checks. Her findinds were hyperreflexia with weakness in the left thigh (didn't test calf). She reviewed the MRI's (which are 4 months old now) and concludes that the only possible diagnosis is migraines, seizures or stroke which could cause the random times of decreased leg strength and tingling or the disc at L5/S1 is touching the nerve root (which is unlikely according to her).

The kicker to all this is that I have not injuired my back since I played footbal in high school (10 years ago) and that recenly ( the last 2 months) I've developed both relaxed and tensed muscle random fascillitaions all over my body. There appear to be no triggers between the fascillations, hyper reflexia or leg weakness. The neurologist has ordered an EMG but said, "I expect it will come back normal."

Fast forward 1 week... Last Thursday I was walking to lunch with my friends when I all of a sudden got light headed, dizzy, tunnel visions, couldn't breathe, and basically fainted. The ER doc said, "You're body released an enormous amount of adrenaline for no apparent reason and we're not sure why." She also said that It appears that I have sciatica in my left leg. I've had a few panic attacks (3) in my life but that was the result of a huge stressor and they were nothing like what I felt that day. I was released with a presciption of valium and sent on my way. Needless to say I'm highly confused about what is going on.

So the questions are:

1) Does anyone have these symptoms or dealt with them before?
2) Can anyone point me in the right direstion to get an idea what I might be dealing with (all my searches return Upper Motor neuron disease results or Benign Fascilliation Sysndrome).
3) Anyone venture a guess of what could be causing this?
4) How do they normally rate sciatica , is it grouped in with the back b/c it might be caused by the bulging disc or would it be rated under nervous system, sciatic nerve since it is causing weakness (neuropathy)?

All your help is highly appreciated!


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Your hyper-reflexia, leg weakness, shooting pain etc is from L5-S1 laying on your sciatic nerve. True test: The shooting pain you experienced down your leg. Did it originate at the top of your buttcheek and then kind of spiral around your leg including the outside of your calf muscle? If so, that is your sciatic nerve.

As for the fainting spell, Panic and Anxiety can cause very dramatic symptoms and may be the culprit? Especially if everything is coming back normal so-to-speak.


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I am not claiming to be a doctor or any type of medical professional but do have a question are the doctors and neurologist actually looking at the MRI films or are they just reading the report ? Your symptoms sound pretty similar to mine weakness, numbness, shooting pain down the right leg. My initial MRI "report" showed L4-L5, L5-S1 herniation's with possible nerve contact at L5-S1. When I finally saw a good neurosurgeon who actually looked at the MRI films he said that L5-S1 nerve root was definitely being crushed by the disc herniation hence the sciatica symptoms. Also from what my wife has told me who is a neuro-science registered nurse is that the doctors who create the MRI reports tend to be very vague in their reporting because their job is not to diagnose, that is meant to be left up the specialist who should be looking at the actual x-rays, MRI's, CAT-SCANS, etc. pictures.
Also after reading your post to my wife she is asking if you have seen a neurosurgeon?


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Hey, sorry to hear of your injury and lack of a good diagnosis-that seems to be typical..... And thanks for the *WARNING* LMAO!

I'm just an old medic who's seen a bit and now I've had to deal with all this first hand. I am by no means, like the other guys, a substitute for the "doctors"....however, my faith in physicians (when it comes to backs) is dwindling...NO its dwindled. I have researched and researched and like the other guys opinion and guess is that it is HIGHLY likely that it is your L5/S1 and not necessarily sciatica-thats kind of a balled up term that is used for the back, but it could be affecting any of the nerves (sciatic, femoral, peronial, etc)...DOCTOR NEED TO FIRST LOOK AT A PATIENTS SYMPTOMS!!!! THE XRAYS, MRI'S, CATS, ETC ARE TO CONFIRM, OR RULE OUT THE DX....BUT ARE NOT 100%. I WILL REPEAT: XRAYS, MRI'S, CATS, DONT ALWAYS SHOW EVERYTHING THAT IS GOING ON. Physicians need to talk to the patients and look at the symptoms. Your symptoms (other than passing out) would steer me to believe you have classic L5/S1 injury (whether it be, nerve impingement, disc bulge, tear, etc...).
Your passing out may or may not be related to the back. You have to look at all possible causes: low blood sugar, dehydrated, anxiety, etc......

Its tough to find a good doctor who will be honest with you and tell you hey "I'm not sure whats going on, but lets do one thing at a time to figure out". Over the years we all do get DDD in the discs. Sometimes people have symptoms for a few weeks and then everything is back to their "normal". Others, have a mechanical issue/injury with symptoms that persist and usually require surgery and if not surgery-a lifetime of physical therapy and change in lifestyle.

BTW, I'd suggest going to Phys Therapy and getting a back belt-its not the kind you can only wear for a few hours a day ...but the kind that is thinner and helps keep your lower back tight-you can wear it all the time without bad effects. Mine is a serola biomechanics-and I LOVE IT. Doesn't cure anything but can help make a few aches and pains less. Other than that I don't have a lot to say about PT either. They can show you some exercises for core strength, but other than that you really need to be in charge and take care of your body.

By they way, my radicular symptoms are weakness in the thigh, ankle, foot, etc....and its not my sciatic. Go research Dermatomes and Lumbar Plexus.

Good luck to you and keep us posted.


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I have my own copy of the [MRI[ reports and a CD with all the images. My neurologist read the reports, asked question, performed the basic neuro test, then looked at the images and wasn't sold that the hernitated disc at L5/S1 was making contact with the nerve root. I'm scheduled for an EMG 6 days before I'm suppose to report to the FPEB so I'm hoping for some good news/definitive outcome before trying to present my case to them.


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First I will say I am the furthest thing from a doctor as you can get, but I will share some things with you that I have found through my experiences and research. I think we may share some similar problems. I tend to agree with what most everyone has posted here, however I think you maybe on to something that I have thought (researching) for the last few months concerning your panic/faint spells. I have L5-S1 disc problems and have had them for some time. I started presenting with problems from nerves that did not correlate with the L5-S1 region. Long story short, they found I had a disc herniation and osteophyte at t11-t12 that made my spinal cord look like an hour glass. There are also different opinions on a syrinx located in the same area. After the surgery to fix it (disc) I got over some symptoms, but developed new ones. Periodic irregular heart rate, light headed, flushed feelings, uncontrolled sweating, muscle twitches all over, bladder issues… and continued hyperreflexia. Upper neuron disease was thought possible until the MRI’s came back with only mild/moderate DDD, foramina narrowing, a few bulging discs in the C-spine… but no real disease, and brain was clear. A few months later I landed in the hospital with splenomegaly from some virus and my blood pressure would be 150’s one minute and 90’s the next. This was along the same lines as how I had been feeling after my surgery. EKG, and cardiogram came back normal… My point (and opinion) is I truly think it (items stated above) is not from my heart, it’s from my back. Most of my symptoms appear and reappear proportionally to how my back is feeling. My PCM has put me on anti-depressants thinking it could be anxiety. I took the script knowing how I have been feeling due to chronic pain, but still the symptoms persist. Getting back to my point, everything is controlled through your spine cord. Including blood pressure… check out this site and read (toward the bottom) about the autonomic nerve pathways down through the parasympathetic nerves. At the end of the day I honestly think they are going to find it (my stuff) to be spine/nerve related. Let me know what you think, and I would be very interested in knowing how your EMG comes back. Thanks!
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