Nerve Impingement?

About two years ago I was diagnosed with herniated dics (C4/5), which caused me extreme trap, shoulder and arm pain and strength loss for some time. I since have recovered, other than some minor pain that is annoying, at the most.

I have a Dr. appt. today due to numbness on the entire side of my left thigh, and intense pain in my right lower lumbar region, down into my glute. Even my right hip flexor has started to hurt over the weekend. Each of these symptoms has come about gradually, and I am not sure what caused them. I started getting into heavier (for me) squats and deads about nine months ago, and have had strong progress. I feel like my form is solid with these lifts.

Obviously I am out of the gym for the short-term. I am not sure if I have more nerve impingement going on, or a torn/strained spinal erector (or both). Any input?

I am frustrated because I know I’ll get the runaround with the general MD, and need to get to a sports medicine specialist. Even the chiro were of little help during the last go-around. Any thoughts or suggestions you may have are appreciated.

This sounds exactly like something that was happening to me and it was never diagnosed (the best guess was a facet joint injury or disc problem at L3/L4).

How did this begin, was it traumatic?

No, not at all. The numbness in my thigh (coupled with pins and needles at times) simply appeared one day, and has remained for the past two months. My lower back has bothered me since my teens (I’m 31), but hadn’t bothered me for the past four years I have been stretching/training. I had been sore for the past two weeks or so, but simply focused on stretching/heat/ice, etc. I also laid off the heavy loads in my training. Yet now, I can’t really do ANYTHING in the gym, for lack of back support.

All I can direct it to would be getting heavier with squats and deads…maybe aggrivated a previous injury? Not that I’m moving mountains or anything (Est. max. 385 squat/425 dead), but I wonder if I was doing too much too early, or had a bad form rep. It’s frustrating in the least (and painful as hell).

I have had similar problems. Right now, my sacrum is twisted and my hips are unbalanced because of a leg-length difference. So, whenever I do something a certain way, BOOM, tightness and pain.

Chiropractic has helped me so far, though.

Thanks for the response guys. Just got back from the Doc…and as I thought, I got the runaround…some anti-imflammatories and 70yo grandma back excercises…I wanted to deck someone. Although, they scheduled an EMG for my thigh numbness. We’ll see. Guess I’ll find a way to numb the pain and continue with hot/cold therapy combined with a few days of couch duty. I’d still love to hear about anyone else’s experiences. I am feling like my history of full contact sports and spine issues, I may have to discontinue heavier squats/deads from now on.

It seems to me I just need a way to get a referral to a good sports doc. Frustration abounds.

They should do an MRI to rule out a disc herniation with nerve impingement.
How long have you had the numbness?

Couch duty is not the best idea. Trying to stay active, without putting your back in positions that recreate or exacerbate your symptoms is a much better idea.

What movements/positions seem to give you the most problem right now?


Thanks Dr. Well, I suggested the MRI (as that’s what diagnosed my neck condition), and they said due to insurance restrictions, they had to pursue the least invasive method first.

Having been through this before, I feel confident that I know what is going on, they just won’t treat it yet. Excluding, of course, the thigh numbness…I am a little worried about that. MS runs in my family - even though it’s not supposed to be genetic.

By couch duty, I mean not lifting, more than anything. I am still stretching and trying to rehab in any way that doesn’t seem to make things worse. Last week I did nothing but cardio and upper body work, yet I quickly realized that even moderate loads still recruited the erectors enough to cause me problems afterword.

I don’t know…it hhurts to walk very far.

Where exactly is the numbness in the thigh? Is it constant or does it come and go based on movements/positions?

Regarding the MRI, some insurance will want you to try conservative treatment for a couple weeks with the onset of acute symptoms, however, depending on how long you have had the problem, and the fact that you have numbness in the thigh, they could approve it sooner.

How is bending, sitting, squatting down, leaning backwards, walking , etc.

Take care,


I belive I might have done something to my back in which L5 was affected. It feels like I jarred something loose around where my iliolumbar ligament or maybe posterior sacroilliac ligament should be. I think L5 is affected because I feel pain down my sciatic all the way to my lateral leg compartment.

The position I sit in can alleviate or worsen the pain.

What I’d like to know is, how long should I be taking off from any lower body stressful movements, such as squats and deadlifts, if in fact I did do some damage to a nerve or vertebrae?

Any other questions you need to know, please let me know what you need.


The numbness is on the outside of my left quad (it isn’t in the back half or inside of my leg at all) and is constant. If I lay on that side to sleep, I will get pins and needles in the area, and even burning sensations. The only movement I can elicit a feeling from it would be situps on a decline bench, where I get a shooting electic-type feeling from hip to thigh. Not pain, but unnerving, for sure.

As far as my right lower back, the pain is constant, and is worst first thing in the morning. As I warm up the muscles, they actually seem better, but then get much more severe after excercise. Any direct/indirect flexion seems to aggrevate it. right now, the most painful movement is bringing my knee up to step over something, but standing still or sitting w/o back support sucks as well.

And honestly, stretching it hurts the MOST!!! lol


I’ll get back with you tomorrow.

What part of TX do you live in?

Also, you said your low back has bothered you since your teens, what caused the first episode?

Did the doc you saw do any kind of exam on you? The SI joint should be evaluated as well. When is your EMG?

Take care,


I am in The Woodlands, north of Houston. I am not exactly sure what caused my original back pain - but I recall seeing a chiro in the 7th grade due to muscle tightness in my lower back. As I’ve gotten older, much of it seems to be related to a lack of hamstring flexibility, which I work on daily now. (I can just about get a full palm on the floor when bending at the waist with straight legs)

I was in a serious car accident about 10 years ago, in which I should have had injuries, but braced myself from the head on impact with my hands on the steering wheel. I have had recurring pain of greater intensity since then, and feel that these nerve impingements are rearing their heads as I get older.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t even get in to see my doc, but a nurse practitioner (my doc wasn’t available for a week and a half!). I wouldn’t even call what she did an exam. Basically, she asked me some questions, checked for reflexes and joint mobility in my hips, and sent me on my way.

Another office is supposed to call to set up my EMG, but I haven’t heard from them yet. At least I got hold of my doc and got some pain meds…I wouldn’t be able to sit and type this if I hadn’t.


My office is in Kingwood. I know a couple good chiros in the Woodlands. I’ll check to see what I did w/ their office info.

Take care,


Definitely could be a soft tissue (ligament, tendon) problem which is causing pain/numbness/impingement. Check out prolotherapy which repais ligament laxity, tendonitis and other problems quite well. I had it done on my knee for an ACL/Chornomalacia problem and it is defintiely helping. I’ve also had my elbow treated for tendonitis. Proloterapy is essentially a series of injections (natural - dextrose, sugar-water etc) directly into the ligements/tendons. The reaction is hightened inflamation which promotes blood flow, healing, new colagen, to strengthen these structures. Once a ligament is strained/stretched there’s really no way to fix it/shorten it/tighten it. Prolo does. Get on google and do some reasearch and there’s a ton of info at - this is my doc (Hauser) and he’s in Chicago.

Best of luck.

Sounds like a disc problem in your lower back. Being a fellow rugger myself, I have been laid up for the past year with a bulging disc between L-4 and L-5. I have had to lay of training for 6 months and my fitness has really paid for it. I use a chiropractor and it has helped.

Thanks everyone. I have an EMG for the thigh numbness scheduled for tomorrow. I’ll have to wait and jump through the hoops until I can get an MRI to diagnose the impingement.

Ryan - I would appreciate the chiro contacts. I was seeing someone at the Sadler Clinic here, but I just didn’t feel the therapy was effective.

In the meantime, should I focus on hot or cold treatments (or both) for my back pain? I continue to stretch, and have tried to do some light walking - but it is still painful, even with the pain meds. I was hoping to try and get back in the gym for some very low impact workouts next week, but I guess I’ll just have to see how I feel.

You might want to try accupuncture. I’ve had nerve impingements before from lifting in my traps and also have had clients with sciatic flare-ups and accupucture was able to help them in a very short time. It depends on your discs and muscle injury history.

You mentioned earlier pains, you might have scar tissue build-up. I’ve unfortunately injured my lower back from improper lifting when I first started out and now have too much scar tissue so my back will always be an issue with me. I prevent my lower back from getting injured by keeping my hamstrings, glutes and lowerback VERY strong. Since i’ve been lifting heavy with good form and performing lots of different deadlifts, I don’t get back aches, but the cache is I can get flare-ups if i’m not consistent with training and have to be careful of overtraining the lower back with lifting and lifestyle.

One thing that has been a life saver is make sure you have a very comfortable bed to sleep on, it’s great to wake up in the morning and feel refreshed. Good luck and keep moving!

Update - had the EMG test this afternoon, and the tech didn’t see any sign of nerve damage causing the numbness. (Very good thing) She thought it was more along the lines of a sciatic nerve issue.

Looks like more of the same. Thanks to all for your suggestions. I think chiro/accupuncture/sports massage and smart lifting will become a norm for me in the future.

I’ll keep track of your posts and let you know I find out anything else.

The numbness is on the outside of your thigh, correct? That can be caused by either pressure or decreased mobility of the lateral cutaneous femoral nerve. It would not show up as nerve damage on an EMG or NCV test. It may or may not be related to your history or back pain. (Your history of back pain probably does contribute to some extent at the very least.) Of course, there are many other things that can cause a similar pain/numbness. I am a physical therapist and definitely lean towards that kind of conservative approach.

I suggest finding a good manual therapist to do your evaluation. They should take a thorough history of your previous and current condition. The treatment will most likely consist of hands on activities and specific strengthening exrecises. (Beware, some of the 70yo lady exercises are extremely tough for your typical bodybuilder.) Let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks climbon…although, I don’t know that we’re talking about the same 70yo lady excercises!!! lol. The Hamstring stretches and such they suggested are either things I have been doing daily, or am doing a more difficult version of. Flexibility is not really my problem anymore. Trust me, I’m a fan of therapeutic excercises, if they make sense and work.

Do you know if this type of therapist accept standard insurance? I imagine, I’ll still have to go through this battery of tests to get a referral, even if they do.