Workers' Compensation

If I hurt my back how come I cannot feel my toes?

You’ve probably heard the phrases “slipped disk” or “pinched nerve” before. What happens is that the main nerves exiting the spinal column get pushed on by swelling tissue or a disk or disk matter. These, and other, nerves are vulnerable when they go through small spaces but have little soft tissue protection. So, if a nerve gets pinched by a piece of disc material or bit of vertebra, wherever that nerve goes you are likely to feel pain or numbness all along it. For example, we see a lot of injuries at the L3-L4, L-4-L5, and L5-S1 areas of the low back. These refer to the 3rd, 4th and 5th vertebrae in the lumbar spine (your low back) and the 1st vertebra in the sacral spine (your tailbone). The nerves involved here go down the legs. If you have burning pain down the middle of the back of your legs you may well have an injury to the S1 nerve. Similarly, if the sole of your foot and your toes are numb you may have an injury to your L5 nerve. When you talk to a doctor you need to be clear on where you hurt and when. If the pain is strictly in your back/buttocks and not down your legs be clear about this. On the other hand if the pain extends down your legs it will help your doctor if you can be clear and specific about where precisely it hurts.