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Weak calf muscle

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
How long does it take to regain strength in calf muscle after recovering from sciatica? Most of the severe pain is gone but I still limp because I can't push off with left foot. Definitely unable to do toe raises.


  • How much time have passed since you lost your strenthg? I have weak toe (yours is L5/s1 nerve, mine is l4/l5). It started moving just a little after 2 weeks, now 5 months later it is moving OK but strenght is not there yet. Dr are saying that I have to wait a year to see full results. However, the strenght might mever come back :(. Even surgery is not an answer. According to my Dr, syrgery is 90 percent effective in removing pain and only 50 percent in removing weakness.
    By the way i do a lot of toe/anckle/foot excersises with weights and rubber bands - my pt showed then to me. I also do at least 100 toe raises during the day (I work standing and do it while working) and I also try to do as many heel raises (these are hard for me) as many as I can per day. Nerves has an ability to rewire itself, so do not give up!
  • thanks for the reply. not what i wanted to hear (but not a suprise either) because my main hobbies are hiking, biking and skiing. all require reasonably strong calves (which I have always had). however, i have begun doing ankle/foot exercises with rubber band and it is helping with my limp. maybe i will be one of the lucky few. good luck to you.
  • No one is replying but me. In addition to rubber band:
    I found that balance plate is very useful in regaining ankle strenght (20 bucks or so). Also, if you have wrapping weights you can wrap around your foot and try to move it up and down. When trying to do toe raises, try to have all weight on your 1st and 2nd toe not over the last toes, it will help your balance a lot. Also, try doing standing on one leg while grooming, doing dishes etc.
    I am also former runner/hiker/etc - it looks like half of the board is. I am trying to stay positive but my whole right leg feels strange. I am still hoping for an improvement since I am not a surgical candidate...
  • It will take longer to regain strength after a nerve injury than if you were just deconditioned from inactivity. Because the nerve was compressed, the nerve signal was interrupted. Whether the nerve was damaged or not, it takes awhile for everything to start working properly again.

    I would be careful about using weights on the leg until you are further along in regaining strength. You don't want to do so much that you end up harming the muscles. I would suggest you continue to walk a lot. I do plies and go up and down on my toes whenever I have a few minutes -- in the kitchen when stirring something, cooking, etc. Today I did the toe raises while waiting to check out in the line at the grocery store. Look on a rehab website to find lots more exercises to strengthen the calf.

    Slowly and steadily is the way to go. You'll get there eventually!
  • MH1651,
    What happened to you and when? Do you have a herniated disk? If so where and when? Did you get an MRI?
    My episode started over a month ago. My walk sounds EXACTLY like yours. I would limp because I couldn’t push off. I figured out it was because of the calf this past week. I am making progress with my walking. I am leaps and bounds ahead of where I started, but still very little calf strength. I am not sure if I could do a toe raise when this first started. About a week ago I tried and I could do it a little bit. I can do it without issue now. I am noticing improvements in mobility and walking. We will see how it goes.
  • My episode began late December. No special event - just started. MRI shows stenosis at L3-4 along with DDD at several other levels. Things are getting better. Exercises and PT paying off - still weak and limping but not as pronounced. Doc said strength may never return to 100%. Thanks for suggestion on balance board - I will give that a go. It is obvious the only thing to do is be patient (something I'm not too good at) - and persistent in rehab.
  • I have not had an MRI or detailed diagnosis like many I read here. I had a lower back episode in December and struggled through the spring. In May, after moving furniture, I was flattened. I have struggled since before Memorial Day to survive pain by stretching and taking it easy. However, I ultimately ended up in an ER while on vacation two weeks ago - pain killers and a recommendation to get an MRI were made.

    My pain has gone from off the scale (10+) down to an easily manageable 3-4. The reason I am reading these posts though is loss of strength in my left leg.

    Like all here - I am active. I am a former collegiate high jumper (left legged!), could dunk basketballs, runner, and century bike rider.

    I noticed about 10 days ago I could not do toe raises with my left leg. Both legs, yes, but my right leg is doing all the work.

    I have started stretching, stair raises, and trying to do "negative" lowering with my leg. I do not feel the leg has atrophied, but feel like my brain can't tell my leg how to go up and down.

    Like you - I am not patient. I want my strength back.
  • seems like I have the same problem as cre, I had surgery about 3 1/2 years ago, I had a very bad herniated disk. I needed the surgery very bad this is because I could not walk, after the surgery I walked fine after a few weeks the pain in my right leg went away, after a month my left leg came around with no pain. Now 3 1/2 yrs. later I still have a problem with my left calf mus. it is still weak I do a lot of cycling and my right leg does all of the work so I have a hudge right calf and a small left calf. any sugestions to how I can get my left up to speed?
  • While this thread is 5 years old, I am nevertheless benefiting from the wisdom contained and thank those for posting.

    FYI I have no toe raise ability and feel it is a factor in my inability to balance.
    Ankylosing spondylitis resulted in spinal stenosis, subsequent surgery damaged the spinal cord. I'm trying to find exercises as alternate means to regain losses.
  • KimfabKKimfab Posts: 7
    edited 08/12/2014 - 5:00 AM
    I have herniation at L4 L5 S1
    Started in September. Had S1 injections, didn't help. PT, no help, many medications, nope. Finally had a discetomy
    On July 30th. For 3 days post op I felt like a real human! Day 4, BAM. Leg pain returned, 100% worse than prior to surgery. I went to ER bc I couldn't take the pain. Another MRI, steroids......day 2 and 3 with steroids helped...but pain is now back with a vengeance. I had my post op appt yesterday and my Dr wants to try the injections again...said sometimes the nerves over react after surgery from being compressed for so long, they need to wake up....but new MRI showed S5 possible issues.

    I walk with a pretty significant limp now, never did prior to surgery....I'm spending my days in bed, because after I'm up for more than 15 minutes the pain is too much. I sit and cry all the damn time because I want my normal life back and people just don't get it...

    Any ideas? Please...this is all too much
    Discetomy 7/30/14
    L4 L5 S1
  • LA216LLA216 Posts: 1
    edited 12/19/2014 - 6:05 PM
    I've had a laminectomy and two back fusions (both in 2011). I will never give up hope, but the weakness in my left calf has never improved even though I work it out regularly at the gym. As a result, I walk with a significant limp since I can't push off, and a toe/calf raise is totally impossible. Luckily I have been pain free. What I wanted to pass on is that I use an Allard Blue Rocker to minimize the effects of the calf weakness. It is a lower leg brace that does not allow my left foot to collapse when I walk., and allows me to push off when walking to the extent that most people aren't aware of my situation. Hope this helps someone.
  • I had a lower back fusion 10 months ago, and I still have not regained my strength. I also had emergency cervical spine fusion 9 months prior to that. I like the rest of you are am very frustrated and very scared I will not get strength back. I used to say it was a weakness in my calf muscle, but now I realize it is all about the right foot. If you can't push up on it, you can't play tennis, run, dance, anything! My surgeon says it could take 2 years, but I feel he just keeps saying that to get me out of his office. I wish he'd just be honest and not give my false hope. I have a 10 year old daughter, and I want to be able to do things with her, like hiking or skiing...or even just a long walk! Can anyone give me any hope that I will get better?
  • Just been looking up more on back pain & found this forum & post. Tbh I don't think you ever really get full strength back, but you learn to live with it & generally forget about it after a year or so. I was also advised not to run again, esp not on hard surfaces as you bring down 4 times your body weight on your spine apparently which isn't what you need if you have DDD, so be careful if you do a lot of running. I've had 3 ops for prolapsed discs, left side S1-L5, left L5-L4, then for a change right sided L5-L4 with footdrop, didn't know what was goin on that time as my foot locked & refused to bend at all, luckily I had an op 3 weeks later or I might of been left with my foot like that, never got full range of movement back tho. Had loads of epidurals they all worked ok for a short time, then had a facet joint injection that put my back in horrendous spasm for 8 month before the discs finally prolapsed, tbh I've never fully recovered from that prolapse, I've lived on a lot of medication since & left with perineural fibrosis & root nerve pressure that left me with nerve pain all over.  Now 6-7 year later it looks like I have another left sided prolapse, got an mri next Monday, but the doc thinks it's L3--L2 this time & I'm on crutches as I can't weightbare on my left leg at the mo. All this over 16 year from being 24 & physically fit. I'd advise anyone who can live without an op to avoid it if possible, do Pilates, swim, do hydrotherapy etc, I'm convinced now that the more you have done the more it weakens the area round it or maybe I'm just bloody unlucky....also got problems in my neck now, spondylosis, pain in the neck, arm & over the head & headaches that sit behind the left eye for days at a time. Just wondering if anyone else has been left like this or has recovered after further surgery, so far I've had 3 discectomies & with the last one a laminectomy with it. I just wish they'd of put some kind of scaffolding in the last time. About 3 yr ago they advised a posterior lumber interbody fusion, but told me at the time to suffer for as long as possible as they really don't want to end up making me worse than I already am as I'm now a high risk of paralysis. Anyone had one of those done? 
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