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dorsiflexion weakness postop L5-S1 microdiscectomy

Hi Everyone,

New member here, first time poster. I am 4 weeks postop from a L5-S1 lumbar microdiscectomy for an acute extrusion of my disc. I subsequently had severe radiculopathy with dorsiflexion weakness and numbness in various spots in my foot. Immediately after the surgery, the pain went away but the weakness still persists. I would say the weakness is mild as muscle strength is about 4/5 pre and postop. I still have a little foot drop as I can hear my shoe "slap" the ground. I was just wondering if any members here have had weakness and whether it improved and at what point during their recovery did it get better. Also, any advice on how to help facilitate recovery from the weakness? Thank you for any input.


  • Welcome to Spine Health
    ........it sounds like you had a mild foot drop prior to the surgery? While you recover, it may take a bit of time for the muscle strength to improve, and for the nerve pain to resolve. When the nerves are compromised, it can take some weeks for you to see the improvement, depending on how long and how extensive the compression was.
    You can do some towel excercises with the towel under you foot to help strengthen the foot muscles, but you may not see total improvement until the surgery and the nerves have had some time to heal.


  • This is my first time posting. I found your post similar to my problem. I had pain for two weeks that was nearly unbearable for me to sit down and then my right leg went numb from the knee down. I went o my family Doctor a couple of times, then I went to ER, then back to family DR, before getting refereed to a Neurosurgeon. By the time I called Neurosurgeon I was starting to have saddle block numbness as well. I was scared to death! They gave me a date two more weeks out and I asked to be placed on the cancelation list. They called me May 13 with opening and I went in. Dr.Chan (my neurosurgeon) told me I needed surgery and scheduled me for surgery on Monday and I feel blessed? I am so grateful he seen the urgency of get this turned around as the numbness was seriously starting to affect me to the point I could not work.
    After surgery now 4 weeks out, I still have numbness in my right leg below knee, but some feeling came back right after surgery. I am still hoping I will eventually feel my right foot again and regain strength, but if not at least it didn't become worse.
    I wonder how many people regain completely numb limbs?
  • Thanks Sandi for the reassurances. I have started physical therapy about a week and a half ago and have started to notice some occasional parasthesias in the foot and aches along the leg. Anyone else have these new symptoms after they started physical therapy? I wonder if this is cause for some concern (reherniation) or its just normal from the new activity stretching on the nerve. Thanks for any comments.
  • It's normal to have some additional discomfort during the beginning stages of PT. Different muscle groups are working among other things. Sometimes a 1 hour session would make me feel like I just ran a marathon. You still need to pay attention because it shouldn't really cause too much increased pain. There were days that I couldn't do certain exercises because it would cause my nerve pain or back pain to increase. Over time it did start to help with the weakness and numbness in my left leg, but it takes time.
    Progressive DDD
    Chronic S1 Radiculopathy
    Discectomy L5-S1 2002
    Discectomy, Laminotomy/Foraminotomy L3-S1 January 2014
    Bilateral SI Joint Fusion and 2 level spinal Fusion October 2014
  • I had it both pre op from june 30th (woke up with it). Had the operation July 20th. Today I still have the same dorsiflexion issue. Please keep posting and your positive outcomes. This is the most recent thread on the subject and I'm anxious to get back to normal. Tell me your stories. My nerve was flattened by my herniated disc. I feel some improvement.. But can't lift a pebble with my big toe.
  • holo10hholo10 Posts: 8
    edited 07/26/2014 - 6:57 AM
    hi all my big toe came back at 6 weeks I had it for 3mouths but still have a lot of pain in the low back and some time in both legs.In time you will know what coming back or not. The 6mouths to one year thing or longer. I hate the wait game aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhha. So hope you guys feel better in time and good luck.
    ben kamody
  • I'm about 8.5 weeks postop now, and I feel I am a little stronger. My heel walk has improved quite a bit; I can now walk a few steps without it giving. I've also noticed a lot less "slapping" of the foot when I walk. I think that a lot of my perceived weakness (decreased dorsiflexion) is contributed by a significant amount of tightness that spans the entire lower extremity, from glutes to ankle. My physical therapist has given me a few stretches to do daily. I do a lot of calf stretches...the one where I use a towel and pull my foot into dorsiflexion seems to have given me the most range of motion. Good luck to all.
  • Thank you to all with dorsiflexion issues posting your progress. It's hard to find a long term thread on the subject. Those who do post give me.. And most likely others heart and strength. My toes grip just enough I can walk a bit better in a shoe. The AFO I have is from the shelf and I'm a large ladies shoe.. So the women's is too tight and the men's is too big. It really hurts to walk in it. Today I managed the crescent in my neighbourhood and can pick up my foot enough so I don't trip. After this task. My foot is now in pins and needles and my calf feels like it's on fire.. But I walked with a cane for 5 minutes.
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