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Spine and Back Health

Numbness in hip

05/14/2008

Question:

I am 52, female, smoker. I was diagnosed 3 years ago with scoliosis, degenerative disk disease, spinal canal stenosis and a touch of osteo. The doctor wanted to do a 12-hour surgery rebuilding 12 to 13" of my back. I could not be off the length of the recovery time, so I passed on the surgery. Two weeks ago, I discovered that I had no feeling (numbness) in my left hip. It was a small area, so I was not really concerned. Over the two week period, the area has grown from the size of my fist to covering 3/4 of my buttock, into my groin area, down my leg 2" and up to almost my waistline. It does not go away. It feels like a 4" thick slab of rubber, but feels dead. There is no discoloration. Over the past week, my lower back pain has resurfaced along with extreme hot-prickly or firey pricks along my arms between the elbows and wrists (on both arms). Should I go back to the neurosurgeon of three years ago? At first I thought it may be a mild stroke, but I THINK it may more than likely be related to my neck or spine damage/disease. Oh, I had neck surgery in 1994. Should I take this hot-prinkling and spreading hip numbness serious since it has lasted over two weeks?

Answer:

Hello, thank you for your question. I'm sure you understand that I can't diagnose your problem in this format. However, based on what you've said, you need to be evaluated right away, either by a neurologist or by a neurosurgeon. It is possible that these symptoms represent some sort of neurologic condition, like a stroke or peripheral neuropathy, but it seems likely also that you could be having a problem with your neck. The symptoms you've described could possibly be early signs of compression of your spinal cord, which is a very serious condition. If it is, and you allow the symptoms to progress for too long, the neurologic damage could be irreversible. In short, YES, you should take it seriously. You need to be examined, to have your neurologic function tested. By the way, you should be careful saying you had "a touch of osteo". "Osteo" can mean osteoporosis, which is thinning of the bone and is common as people age, or it can mean "osteomyelitis", which is a very serious infection of the bone. Good luck, please make an appointment with a specialist very soon.

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Response by:

David J Hart, MD David J Hart, MD
Associate Professor of Neurosurgery
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University