- By Dana Sparks
Sharing Mayo Clinic: Mayo team pinpoints source of puzzling leg weakness
Without an explanation for progressive weakness in his legs, Raymond Knapp was resigned to the notion that he would be confined to a wheelchair.
Believing he was headed toward a future in which he would be unable to walk much, if at all, Raymond Knapp was anxious to find answers when he arrived at Mayo Clinic. Due to progressive weakness in his legs, Raymond and his wife, Ruth, had begun to look at wheelchairs and an accessible van. "I was convinced that I was going to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair," he says.
Raymond's decline had been swift, and he was shocked by the change. Just several years earlier, he had been physically active, participating in a variety of sports, including basketball, softball and racquetball. "I went from my early 60s playing all sports, moving around freely and chopping down trees to where walking around unassisted was difficult," Raymond says.
As the weakness worsened, Raymond progressed from having no problems with his mobility to needing a cane to requiring a walker. Eventually, he had to have two people help him when he wanted to stand. He also experienced numbness, burning, tingling and sensory loss in his feet and legs. Raymond found himself becoming weaker, even losing the ability to urinate on his own.
Raymond's doctors had diagnosed him with a neurological problem, but that didn't explain the loss of strength in his legs. And despite medications and surgery, his legs continued to weaken. Then he started having severe sciatic nerve problems in his right leg. His physicians were stumped as to what caused Raymond's muscle and nerve degeneration, and they referred him to Mayo Clinic for further evaluation.