With the easing of trauma around the spinal cord resulted in increased recovery of movement but along with it, the increased pain and discomfort of the neurological damage. On the up side, signals to the muscles were beginning to get through but on the down side nerve pain increased what seemed proportionately. Now, although a good deal of mobility has been recovered, I live most days in excruciating discomfort and pain. The available drugs do little or nothing to ease this distracting discomfort.
Sciatic Nerve Pain:
Although I can stand up at the parallel bars or when braced against my chair, and can even walk with my leg braces, neither can be done for any length of time. Whether through physical trauma or the consequences of infection, injury to the spinal cord is usually asymmetrical. In my case this resulted in a muscle imbalance affecting the ‘pelvic cage’. My left hip doesn’t sit in the proper position resulting in what I would assume is pressure on the sciatic nerve. With the muscles not holding the hip joint in the proper position, the joint often produces a ‘hitch’ with a audible click as a ligament catches producing a moment of pain in the hip joint. This is in addition the sciatic nerve pain which simply feels like pressure pain on the hip joint when sitting in a chair or even semi-upright in bed. Even lying on my side or on my stomach doesn't stop the pain. Often it continues to throb with every beat of my pulse. The sciatic nerve causes not only hip pain but it radiates right down to the heel of the foot. Exercises may possibly help as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NAIDS) - neither of which offer me any relief.
Damaged Nerve Pain:
Nerve pain, whether caused by progressive diseases such as diabetes, cancer, guillain-barré syndrome or by physical trauma can result in a burning discomfort in the affected limbs, in my case the legs. My legs feel as if they are immersed in very hot water which can extend as far up as to the knees.
Shooting Electrical Pain: On occasion I get these shooting electrical pains which feel almost identical to having had that limb touch a live 120V electrical wire. A sudden and unexpected shock or zap causes the limb to jerk in response. These electrical shooting pains usually occur in clusters - after a number of zaps the subside until the next event.
Other Physical Pain: Walking with the leg braces has resulted in further damage and discomfort. The rigid braces pushed against soft flesh resulted in pinching and gouging in more delicate areas, particularly the inner thigh resulting in bruising, blistering, bleeding and abrasions. Having been bed ridden for so long, the soles of the feet have lost there normal toughness and calluses. The smallest amount of rubbing results in blisters and bleeding. This has to be watched carefully with the impaired sensation I have.
Because of the muscle imbalance from the injury, the sciatic nerve is irritated on my left but on my right the right hip does not activate properly when attempting to walk in the braces. The hip seems to lag behind and does not want to come over the leg/knee when taking a step. The resulting swagger in my gait is caused by that hip momentarily falling out to the right side. As it does the right leg twists in compensation resulting in an irritation and slight pain in my left knee cap as it twists. Ultrasound therapy may be in order for the knee if the pain persists.
Muscular Spasms: A direct result of the spinal injury. Although not a pain as such, the are a tremendous nuisance. Again, often unexpected or preceded by what might feel like a momentary increase in tension, the leg will jerk uncontrollably and usually set up a rhythm. The limb might jerk as often as once every few seconds. This could last for minutes or hours. The spasm or jerk could be so unexpected and violent that one is unprepared for the action and the intensity might not even be duplicated if one tries. In other words, I would not be able to move my leg that fast if I tried. I cannot voluntarily duplicate the suddenness and intensity of the jerk.
With the increased mobility has come distracting, annoying and frequently excruciating pain. I can't find comfort nor sitting or in standing. Constant pain is so distracting that it is often impossible to concentrate or focus on a task whether reading a book or just watching TV. Passing out in sleep seems to offer the only relief.
* * *