Could this be something to worry about?

3 answers | Last updated: Jan 31, 2013
Lioness59 asked...

For awhile now I have had leg weakness and pain. Two years ago I had a Doppler done where they indicated partial blockages but said it was nothing to worry about. If I try to walk around the block-the pain starts behind my knees and quickly moves up where I feel like I have to force my legs to move and my butt cheeks will go numb or go to sleep. I've dropped some weight with no changes to my diet. I'm 50, 5'7", and 116 lbs. I have no insurance to get multiple tests done. Dad's side has several different cancers (don't know a lot), he died of some form of bone cancer. Mom's side is diabetes and heart disease. Should I be worried? Any ideas on which way to steer me?

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

From reading your question, I do believe that you should be concerned about the symptoms you are having. The pain that you describe could be from worsening circulation from arterial blockages in your legs (especially since your last test was 2 years ago, and not normal), or it can be caused by a problem with your back (like spinal stenosis or radiculopathy). My other thought is that some kind of neurological problem could be causing these symptoms. Have you ever been tested for diabetes? You mention that your family does have a history of diabetes, which can cause neuropathy and lower extremity pain. This should be looked at as well.

The most concerning thing to me is that you are only 50 years old and you are already having alot of pain with walking. Also, your problem has been worsening for over 2 years, which means it will not go away on its own.

I do understand that you have no health insurance, which makes things difficult. However, you need to make your health a top priority here, since you are suffering and getting worse. What I would recommend is for you to schedule a visit with a neurologist, and tell them you have no insurance for testing. They may be able to help you anyway, or at least give you some idea of what is going on with you.

I wish you good luck!

Community Answers

Lioness59 answered...

Thanks for your input. Went to doctor today-could not take the pain and feel like something is attacking my muscles. He said could be spinal stenosis or maybe a disk protrusion or maybe chronic arthritis. He said unfortunately there is nothing that can be done without expensive tests and lab/blood work that he knows I can not afford. Single mom-$8/hr-no insurance, etc.... So guess I have to figure out a way to deal w/the pain.

Caretender answered...

As a single mother with low income, you should qualify for medical assistance for both you and your children. Have you checked into this? There are several agencies that can help you, google one in your area.