What is happening? Numb feet and buttocks.
November 21, 2010 11:37 AM   Subscribe

What is happening? I'm scared I'm going to wake up completely unable to walk. Should I wait for the call about the MRI or do I need to go to the emergency room?

I'm 6'1, 195 pounds fairly active 30 year old Canadian male. I sit at a desk during my work. I've experienced lower back strains before.

9 days ago I was hit mid air and fell to ground while playing basketball landing on my buttocks and wrists. It was a big fall but I didnt feel seriously injured and I continued to play for another 45 minutes.

Roughly the next day I noticed that my feet were tingly. Then gradually over the next few days my buttock become noticeably numb.

For the next week I have been experiencing increasing and near total numbness all around my sacrum and both of my feet are very numb mainly on the soles of my feet and toes experiencing pins and needles sensation

My first trip to the Dr. - leg lift sciatica tests did not cause any pain. The only pain Im experiencing is caused by my numb tingling feet (color is normal - circulation looks good when I press down on my feet the color changes).

Urinating is not an issue although there is a bit of tingly sensation in my genitals. Bowel movements are infrequent and I little sensation - I'm going but less often than normal and it feels frozen or numb.

I'm finding it more and more difficult to walk, stand or lay down. Loss of balance and sensation when walking.

I feel a warmth deep inside the right buttock almost like I bruised near the bottom of my pelvis during the fall. But numbness is equal on both sides of my sacrum and feet.

I am supposed to be called when an MRI becomes available for me.

Stretching seemed to eleviate SOME of the numbness in my feet but definitely not all.

Sciatica like symptoms but no pain - only numbness and pain from pins and needles in my feet.

What is happening? I'm scared I'm going to wake up completely unable to walk. Should I wait for the call about the MRI or do I need to go to the emergency room?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
To me that sounds like a herniated disc. Sometimes the only symptoms are in the legs or feet, and those symptoms don't always include pain. But since your symptoms have worsened go to the ER, if only to allay your fears.
posted by amro at 11:41 AM on November 21, 2010

I am not a doctor, but I think difficulty walking warrants a trip to the ER.
posted by Mavri at 11:53 AM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

I am only the daughter of a doctor, but you need to go to an ER ASAP.
posted by miss-lapin at 12:11 PM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

ER. Your symptoms are worsening, and you need imaging studies done sooner rather than later.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 12:12 PM on November 21, 2010 [3 favorites]

Also, when you go, I would like you to be sure you put the change in sensation and frequency with regard to urination, defecation and genitalia right up with trouble walking and numbness when you are going through triage. That is a big deal, because both the voluntary and (some of) the involuntary innervation of your pelvic viscera are originating in the sacral region. Damage to that innervation affects continence, among other important functions.

posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 12:51 PM on November 21, 2010

This should be emphasized: pain and tingling in the legs may wait. These symptoms - numbness, difficulty walking, possible urinary involvement - mean DO NOT WAIT. You should go directly to the ER.
posted by yclipse at 1:07 PM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

sounds like it follows similar symptoms of cauda equina. IANYD. ER, now. these kinds of things are ALWAYS easier treated when people catch them in the early stages. waiting will do you no good.
posted by andreapandrea at 1:21 PM on November 21, 2010

ER--a lot of things that are your worst fears and dancing through your head are resolved by the ER, not caused by them.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:41 PM on November 21, 2010

Sounds like what you have is a stinger. Some reliable sources:
American Acad Ortho Surg - Stingers
Spine.org - Stingers (PDF)

However if symptoms persist or get worse, and ER trip may be indicated.
posted by ruwan at 1:45 PM on November 21, 2010

Fuuuuckin hell.

Stingers? Fuck that shit.

I am a physician. Anyone telling me the story you relate would be met with wild gesticulations and me dialing 911. Numb nuts? Change in voiding/bowel habits? Can't walk and your balance is screwed up?

These point to serious, serious things.

Go to the ER. Stop reading MeFi. Go now.
posted by herrdoktor at 1:55 PM on November 21, 2010 [33 favorites]

Fancy words: the differences between the neuroanatomy of the brachial plexus and the neuroanatomy of the lumbosacral plexus and cauda equina of the spinal cord are non-trivial.

Less fancy: Not only are we talking about change in movement, feeling and balance, the nerves that allow people to poop, pee, and participate in sweet lovin' are right there.

The time to read interesting pamphlets about 'stingers' is while you are waiting in the ER.

on preview: herrdoktor FTW.
posted by Uniformitarianism Now! at 2:14 PM on November 21, 2010 [3 favorites]

I am a critical care doctor and I agree with the above. ER NOW.
posted by drpynchon at 3:43 PM on November 21, 2010 [5 favorites]

Yeah, I've had back and leg issues before and my GPs were *all* in on "if it affects the bladder, go to the ER."
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 4:11 PM on November 21, 2010

Dude, you live in Canada? Whenever there is a doubt as to whether you should go to the ER, the answer is yes. There is (virtually) no reason why you wouldn't go.
posted by Simon Barclay at 4:47 PM on November 21, 2010

If you're still there: if you are in Canada you can call a health line (often 811) and speak to a triage nurse. They will go through a detailed checklist of your symptoms and tell you whether you need to go the ER or not. I've used this service in BC and it is really great in situations like this.

I found this list but not sure how accurate. For example in BC I know the number is 811. Maybe it's just out of date.

Alberta 1-866-408-5465
British Columbia 1-800-661-4337
Manitoba 1-800-782-2437 or 204-940-2200
Newfoundland and Laborador 1-888-709-2929
New Brunswick 1-877-784-1010
Northwest Territories 1-888-255-1010
Nunavut 867-975-5700
Nova Scotia 1-800-566-2437
Ontario 1-866-797-0000
Prince Edward Island 902-368-4947
Quebec 811
Saskatchewan 1-877-800-0002
Yukon 811
USA 1-800-232-4636
posted by PercussivePaul at 7:07 PM on November 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

Mod note: From the OP:
I went to the ER after the second response and was reading subsequent responses off my phone while in the waiting room.

MRI proved it to be transverse myalitus (sp) with the basketball fall a red herring. TM is very serious. More tests to come and I've been admitted to the hospital.

Thanks again for giving me that last push I needed.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:28 AM on November 22, 2010 [3 favorites]

OP, I'm so sorry. My thoughts are with you. I'll be hoping for a full recovery.
posted by moira at 9:25 AM on November 22, 2010

That rung a bell. My cousin's wife developed a severe case of transverse myelitis a few years ago. Anon, if you'd like, you can mefi mail me your contact info, and I'll try to put you in touch with my cousin. I'm sure he has researched the disease extensively and can connect you to whatever resources are available. I am so sorry you're going through this and I hope the next news you get is better.
posted by PercussivePaul at 5:30 PM on November 22, 2010

I'm happy to see this had a good, though bad, ending.
posted by yclipse at 8:21 PM on November 28, 2010

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