Today I cancelled Monday’s PT appointment. Yesterday I did a two-hour recumbent ride in the basement. My wonky left leg felt fine throughout. When I walked away from the bike, the ache in my leg returned.
I did a very abbreviated PT session, took two Tylenols, and chilled.
Today, my leg felt fine for a few hours after waking. Then, as I was telling Mrs. Rootchopper that my leg felt pretty good, the ache returned.
I went for a 30-mile ride to test out the repairs done on Little Nellie. The shifting works fine in the front. I still get some chain misbehavior in the rear but that’s the norm for this bike. I wonder if there isn’t some kind of flex in the frame caused by the folding mechanism.
In any case, my leg felt absolutely fine for the entire ride. The left knee hurt a little going up hills or grinding big gears. There’s a small painful spot on the outside of my hip, as well. I don’t know if the leg could handle a mountain out west but for present purposes it’s okay. I stopped to shop at a store and within a few minutes my leg was aching again. I think weight bearing is triggering the pain.
When I got home, instead of PT, I did a short version of my old yoga routine. There are over 30 poses involved. I spent about a minute on each. By the end, my leg was very achy.
It has been suggested by several people (my physical therapist and my brother, a retired nurse, who has similar back problems) that this ache is referred pain from a pinched nerve in my lower spine. My lower back doesn’t hurt any more than usual. It’s always stiff thanks to the family genome. I’ve had sciatica in the past as well as a herniated disk. My current symptoms don’t follow the classic knife pain from butt to calf of sciatica, nor do they follow the aching thigh numbness of my slipped disc. Still, some sort of nerve compression in my lower back is a pretty good candidate for the cause.
So I looked up yoga videos for lower back pain. The three that I found all include positions in my routine. Most include extending the leg away from the body, either while doing a standing yoga position or a kneeling one. (Some of them involve reaching back and pulling the foot back toward the body. Ain’t gonna happen.) The level of difficulty of these is easy to moderate, for me anyway. If I had full blown sciatica, they’d be impossible.
Another candidate for the pain in my calf is repercussions from my blood clot episode of two years ago. It turns out that some people who have had a blood clot called a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in their leg have residual pain that can show up much later and last a life time. The pain is caused by the body reacting to the DVT by redirecting blood flow around the DVT. After the DVT is gone, the blood flow gets discombobulated and pain and swelling results. (When I had the DVT, I had no pain or swelling. It was a sneaky little bastard.) Depending on how my visit to the orthopedist goes on Monday, I may make a follow up appointment with my hematologist.
Digression: one way to tell that you are old is by the number of medical specialists you see. My specialty list includes ophthalmology, neurology, hematology, pulmonology, endocrinology, orthopaedics, and physical therapy. If this goes on much longer, I’m going to need a psychiatrist. As long as my list does not involve a mortician, I’ll consider myself ahead of the game.
A third possibility is acute Christmas cookie intoxification. ACCI is a bitch. The only known cure is January.
I happen to have a vibrating massage gizmo that I acquired during one of my many episodes of back pain many years ago. It’s basically been useless until now but it turns out to be surprisingly effective in calming my calf muscle down. This device can target the muscle tightness much better than a foam roller, massage stick, or a lacrosse ball.
So for the next several days it’s biking, yoga, massage gizmo, Netflix, and pills.