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Forum Name: Neurology Topics

Question: Legs feel like heavy jello, numbish, off-balance


 ladybugsy - Fri Dec 04, 2009 8:36 am

Am 43, female, married, 135 lbs, non-smoker.

Am sober, but feel slightly inebriated.

Legs feel like heavy jello at times. If take one more step, legs feel like I will fall.

Arms get so tired, heavy feeling.

Really hard to walk a straight line. I swerve to the left, then right... Only, I'm not drunk.

My feet, legs, arms-- seem to fall asleep. Start doing little "pricklies". But they aren't asleep. Esp. my feet.

Off and on in left leg since 2000.

Diagnosed with idiopathic peripheral neuropathy by Dr. Parmar in Lewistown, PA.

Since last week, feel more intense of above descriptions, with each day.

Right now, both legs feel as if have weights tied around ankles all the time.

Both legs feel as if have too tight stockings from above knee down to feet.

Get good sleep, but exhausted.

Blood tests all normal for everything. glucose, vit deficiency, etc all normal.

Am currently unemployed and have no health insurance.

Thank you in advance for any advice or suggestions.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Wed Dec 30, 2009 9:24 pm

User avatar Hello -- First thing popped to mind for me was what you've been diagnosed with, idiopathic peripheral neuropathy (IPN). However, this is partly a diagnosis of attrition, so other possible causes of this problem must be ruled out first. Among them would be MS (first and foremost, and this would be accomplished by MRI of brain and spine), myasthenia gravis (MG), and several other more obscure central nervous system (CNS) disorders. If these can be ruled out then the current diagnosis is likely the right one, although it is of little comfort since it is either truly idiopathic (of no known cause) or is secondary to some other problem as yet undiscovered, such as a connective tissue (autoimmune) disease. This can often be revealed by certain blood tests, but is a tedious process. Still, it is well worth getting to the bottom of the problem as it can make life pretty difficult. You may also suffer eventual dysautonomia secondary to IPN, which simply adds more symptoms such as lightheadedness, variable and/or irregular heart rate/rhythm, unpredictable fatigue, etc. I'm willing to bet some days are better than others, as IPN tends to behave this way, even though it may seem to be progressing haphazardly. Some days are not too bad. Others start out bad and just get worse. The gait problem is one of those thing which stands out, that appearing to be drunk without having had a drink, and it is because the nerve conduction is slowed in the extremities, usually mostly the legs. Have you had nerve conduction testing and electromelogram done yet? These are essential to a correct diagnosis of any of the possible causes.

There is a family of drugs, originally intended as anti-seizure medications, then nerve pain blockers, which sometimes actually seems to help improve the slowed nerve conduction and leg weakness, although they have potentially annoying side effects. They are, to name a few, pregabalin (Lyrica), gabapentin (Neurontin) and...there is another the eludes me right now. These are unique among pain blockers (IPN often does have tingling or burning along the nerve pathways in the feet and legs) and can sometimes help, at least for a while, improve the situation.

While peripheral neuropathy is often seen in conjunction with poorly controlled diabetes, I am taking it this is not at all an issue for you, and you've just been unlucky enough to wind up with this truly disabling and deeply annoying condition. You might also take a look back in your family tree, as this does tend to run in families.

Hope this is helpful. Good luck to you and please follow up with us here as needed.
 etaoinshrdlu - Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:42 am

Ah, I always love the word "idiopathic" when it relates to a diagnosis. I have symptoms somewhat similar to yours, though fortunately much milder in severity. Unless I've overdone it with hiking (I don't do real cardio anymore, but I do hike often), or I'm anxious, I don't notice as much of a problem as when my symptoms first came on. Primarily, I just get heaviness and sometimes burning in my legs, and the wobbly jello feeling. I used to exercise very intensely, so I'm familiar with what healthily tired legs feel like, and it's not the same. The way you described your legs feeling like tight stockings around the calves? Exactly. And tension is a huge component.

Once my post comes on-line (assuming it's approved), it would be wonderful if, Mr. Kenyon, you could look at my history and see if it also seems like IPN. No doctor has had a clue or has been willing to even give it such a vague label.

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