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Lack of plantar flexion

HI there

I am new member and would very much appreciate some advice on my back/foot problem. I have been reading posts from this forum since last year and have found them very useful.

To give you an overview, I am a 44 year old female. I herniated disc L5/S1 in my lower back in September 2013. This caused agonising pain down my left leg and pins/needles and numbness in my foot. I lost the full use of my foot due to nerve damage and cannot go up on tiptoe, so walk with a limp. I had a microdiscetomy in November 2013. The surgeon explained to me that the surgery was to relieve me of the pain and there were no guarantees my foot would recover. I am now 4 months on from the surgery and, although I have regained most of the feeling in my foot, aside from a patch just below my little toe, I still cannot take any weight on the foot, cannot go up on tiptoe and cannot walk properly. Also, my calf muscle has wasted away due to the nerve damage/lack of use. I am having physio but she is very cautious about whether I will get any improvement in my foot and says to concentrate on strengthening back/leg muscles and things may improve. I don't want to limp for the rest of my life :-(.

I would love to hear from anyone who has the same issue with their foot and whether they have had any improvement over time.

Many thanks.

Herniated L5/S1 disc - September 2013. Microdiscectomy - November 2013


  • http://www.spine-health.com/forum/announcements/spine-health-announcements/welcome-spine-health-how-get-started

    Recovery of a nerve can take some months if there is damage to it......Nerves only regrow about 1 mm per month, and depending on how much of the nerve was damaged and how long/serious the compression is,time is the only thing that will determine where you end up.
    I had a partial foot drop prior to my first surgery, after, I wound up with a bilateral total foot drop. There are options to assist you to walk better, and give you better control over your foot and ankle.......mostly the use of an ankle foot orthotic. You will need a prescription for one and it would be wise to discuss with your doctor or physical therapist specfic excercises to strength and increase flexibility in the foot and ankle.
  • Many thanks for your response Sandi. I am using orthotics in my shoes that the physio recommended + a 4mm heel raise in my left shoe as apparently my left leg is slightly shorter than my right leg (very common apparently), but it is not an ankle foot orthotic as such, although I have read up on these. I will ask my physio about them when I see her next week. Did you regain use of your foot, either partially or completely? My GP seems to think I will get some use back but I am not confident. I did ask him about nerve conductive tests but he said they are for peripheral nerves not spinal nerves.

    Thanks for listening x
    Herniated L5/S1 disc - September 2013. Microdiscectomy - November 2013
  • but my left was partial before the surgery and because of post op complications, became full bilateral so I use bilateral afo's....
    I have had several emg's done to check the nerve function from my brain through the spinal cord, to my feet and while they are mainly used for peripheral nerve evaluation, they can also help pinpoint the location of the damage, and help assess whether or not there is signal sent to a nerve.
    Usually emg's are not offered unless the nerve issues have been present at least three months, since it can render false negatives if it is done too soon.
  • Thanks Sandi. I will ask my physio about AFOs and also approach my GP again about an EMG test.
    Herniated L5/S1 disc - September 2013. Microdiscectomy - November 2013
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