Q. Why do I get pain in back, knee and foot with occasional numbness?

Answered by
Dr. Aida Quka
and medically reviewed by Dr. Vinodhini. J
This is a premium question & answer published on Feb 18, 2020

Hello doctor,

I have been having back, knee and foot pain and numbness for some time. So, I am wondering if I should see professional help? It started about a year or more ago, and then it was merely the lower left side of my back. It would go numb for a brief time after riding for about thirty or more minutes. However, as time has progressed the pain has gotten worse, and mostly the pain is in my left knee.

I own apartment buildings, and I love working on the properties, but it is beginning to wear on my body being a 53-year-old male. Yesterday was especially hard because I was on a ladder a lot and it makes my lower back and left knee hurt when I use a ladder, and I went up and down three flights of steps numerous times moving supplies from one apartment to another, and it took its toll. Therefore, today I am experiencing pain in my left knee on the side of my knee and in the back.

Last night, I woke up with a lot of pain in my left knee and it was a burning sensation, but my back did not hurt as it usually does. I had a baker's cyst many years ago on this same knee, and my doctor advised me to take it easy for a few days and take Advil. Once I did as he recommended the pain went away and until recently I have had no problems with my knee.

One more thing most of the time when I feel a sharp pain going through the left part of my lower back it makes my foot numb. If I sit or lie down and pull my leg up to my chest it gives me a lot of relief. Most of the time if I am feeling this sensation in my lower back and it starts to go down to my left leg (pulling my leg up to my chest for a couple of minutes) will usually make the pain go away completely.

Most of my time is spent about ten hours a day at my desk working, and while my favorite thing to do is work on my properties. I have to sometimes hire people because of spending so much time at my desk. At one time (about ten years ago) I used to lift weights (free weights) and workout on a cross-trainer for two to two and a half hours a day (from Monday to Friday). Although as I got more responsibility for my work, I started cutting back on the exercising and eventually gave it up altogether.

So, I do not do anything outside of working on my properties for exercise, and I hope to start lifting weights again and doing cardio because my waist has gotten up to a 34 and I want to stop it from expanding more. However, I am afraid to start any exercise routine before I find out what is going on with my left side.

The pain I am referring to is strictly from my waist down the leg and to my foot. I have no problems with my right side, and if a doctor recommends surgery, it is not going to happen because I grew up with a dad that had Perthes. And I have seen how he has suffered his entire life and how many times doctors have replaced hips telling him this one is the last one only for him to have to go back over and over until he is finally in a wheelchair. Sorry, there is one more thing my primary doctor has retired, and I have not been sick in over seven years, so I have no primary doctor to give me a referral, but I have to do something about this pain. Thanks for any advice or ideas you can give me because I always worry it might be cancer because my grandmother died of osteogenic sarcoma.

I am currently taking Vyvanse, Sawpametto, Vitamin C, Magnesium and multivitamin.

Dr. Aida Quka



Welcome to icliniiq.com.

Your symptoms (back pain radiating in the knee and leg) are suggestive of a bulging (slipped) intervertebral disc in the lumbar region, which is causing irradiating radicular pain in the knee. For this reason, I would recommend consulting with a neurologist for a physical examination and a lumbar spine CT (computed tomography) scan or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) study. Prolonged sitting position or weight lifting could be the cause of such clinical situation. For this reason, I would recommend having some rest, avoiding prolonged standing up or sitting position, and avoid weight lifting. Painkillers (Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen), coupled with a muscle relaxant (Flexeril) can help improve the pain.

Local warm packs on the lower back and massage or physiotherapy can help improve your situation. A nerve conduction study would help to determine the possible damage to your nerves. You should discuss it with your doctor on the above tests.

I hope this helps.

The Probable causes:

Bulging lumbar disc.

Investigations to be done:

Lumbar column CT scan or MRI scan. Nerve conduction study.

Treatment plan:

Painkillers, muscle relaxants, and physiotherapy.

Preventive measures:

Avoid weight lifting, prolonged sitting or standing up position.

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