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Has any one recovered from foot drop

Hi just wondering if any one has recovered from foot drop,,, I started with back pain and sciatica and a foot drop,,nearly 11 weeks ago hospital delayed in sending me for mri all though the orthopedic I seen at hospital said it looked like a slipped disc sent me home and told me to wait, I got an appointment for 4 weeks later but managed to get it in 2 weeks instead has I complained and it helped cause I work in the nhs,, got referred to a spinal doctor 6 weeks after I went to hospital then I got my results of him large herniated disc L3/L4,,,, also multilevel disc degeneration,,,also told me cause it had been so long to get treated my chance of my foot drop was nil and was now paralysed,, been walking with crutches from beginning,,I had surgery 2 weeks ago (microdiscectomy) to relieve pain in leg,, my pain has improved but my foot hasn't still got the numbness and tightness constantly and shooting pains on gagapentin for nerve pain also got numbess down side of leg,,, I'm hoping the surgeon is wrong and it improves over time,,, I know the nerve doesn't recover fast and takes a long time,,, having a splint on in next couple of weeks hopefully will improve my walking my hips hurt and can't walk for long or stand for long,,,,,, just wondering if anyone has gone through with the same thing and they have recovered,,,, thanks in advance


  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,818
    on the extent of the nerve damage. Nerve's take a very long time to heal. Some can take up to 24 months, much depends on how much they were damage.
    After the 4th of my lumbar surgery, I had too many damaged nerves on my right leg, knee down to my foot. Some of those nerves are dead and have never recovered. That was over 30 years ago. I still have a mild drop foot, doesn't bother me that much, just at times when I go up stairs and I do have my occasional stumble forward because I was not picking up my foot.

    Also, if the nerves were badly damaged that they are dead, nerves don't come back to life. Although I have read a few journals talking about the ability to bring some dead nerves back to some form of use
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • How do you know when the nerves are dead,,, all I know is what the surgeon said before my surgery he said been left to long and is now paralysed,I see him again in few weeks so hopefully he will tell me more,, I cannot move it up at all or to the right also my big toe and next to it only move them slightly and still numbness all over except under my foot near heel,,,is there test that you had,,, I still stumble see an orthotic on the 14th October,,,I've heard of a friend there is surgery to that can be done, nerve transfer and fusion not sure if these are any good,, do you wear an orthotic,,
  • Hey Debbie! I had been living with an L5 pars defect fracture and grade 1 spondylolsthesis for 4 years, when out of nowhere I developed Foot Drop in my left leg. I thought it'd "work itself out" and be back to normal after a few days. After almost 2 weeks of my 26 year old self not being able to walk correctly without tripping and having my ankle continuously give out on me, I set up an appt with my PCP ASAP. She sent me in to have a new MRI done and see a neurosurgeon that day. The surgeon urged I have the surgery within the next day or two if I wanted to have any chance of saving that nerve. Frightened, I called my dad who had broken his back 3 different times in his 30's, had numerous surgeries and still lived in TONS of nerve & back pain. My dad told me how he had developed Foot Drop symptoms a few years ago and just used a cane to assist in walking. He said his symptoms lasted for 3 months and then 1 day was completely nonexistent. Now this is VERY rare! He has so much scar tissue from a botched first fusion done by surgical students, that other surgeons never wanted to operate on him.

    My Foot Drop was gone as soon as I woke up from my L5/S1 spinal fusion and decompression surgery preformed on 10/10/14. My surgeon was actually very surprised by this, because he said after only a few days of compromising the functionality of my nerve by waiting it out, I was most likely not going to walk regularly again.

    I suggest to regularly massage your leg/foot and soak it in warm water, to see if anything improves within a few days. Nerves heal ridiculously slow, something like 1MM per month. Try and stay hopefully if you can. Just remember, drs can't predict without a doubt how your recovery will be. Ask about a procedure to test the nerve as well. I had this done 2 years ago. It's a regular appt where the Dr will stick thin needles an inch or so into the nerve all along your leg. The needles are hooked up to a machine that sends a shock into them. If you can feel the shock and slight pain, the nerve still has a chance! If you feel no pain with the shock, you'll know it's probably not as likely.

    I hope this helps and I definitely feel your pain!
    Dani ~ 26 y/o

    Bilateral L5 Pars Defect
    25% grade Spony
    10/10/14 L5/S1 Spinal Fusion and Decompression surgery
  • Hi thanks do for that I'm soooo glad they operated on you so soon and your foot drop recovered,,, my surgery was over 6 weeks ago and still no improvement in lifting it up,,, I had a cast done on Tuesday for a splint get that in 4 weeks,,, still doing physio,,, I'm now having trouble with my ankle very sharp pains when I walk and have to stop suddenly and aching,,, I realy need a splint asap,, also getting a night splint to stop my night cramp,,,, I seen a nurse post op the other day and have to see a surgeon in December she told me they will talk about the test you mentioned when I go then have to wait 3 months since surgery till they can do anything,,, I know there is surgery they can do but not sure on time scale when they do that,,, hopefully it will start to recover,,,, but been like this now for over 3 months,,, still can't work use a crutch when I'm out has I still trip,,,, did the test hurt I've heard it suppose to hurt,,,, so glad you got seen straight away,,, pity my hospital delayed my mri,,,
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,343
    edited 10/20/2014 - 4:52 AM
    As we have explained to you several times, you are only just now, at three months out of the acute phase of recovery. NERVE recovery can take up to two years, and if you are experiencing changes to the type of nerve pain, the sensations are changing, or the locations, it may be that there is slowly improvement going on , but it is going to take TIME for you to know what amount of recovery you may get from the surgery as far as the foot drop goes.
    I understand you are anxious, but worrying about it every day, only makes the changes that much harder to detect, and your focus on what it feels like daily is going to hinder your recovery.
    The best thing you can do for your foot and yourself is to focus on where you are at the end of each month........if there were changes or improvements, and keep working on strengthening and flexibility of your foot......you will find that focusing once a month on any improvements or changes allows you to see if there is progress, instead of daily worrying and focusing on what your foot is doing or not doing.
  • Debbie67 -

    This is from my own experience. I had severe back pain over a dozen years ago. In my family, we were taught that pain is only in the mind. Walk it off and keep going. I had a herniated disc at L3/L4 on my right side that caused foot drop. I did nothing about it for at least a year before the drop got so bad, I could not stand it any more. The pain was so unbearable, I could only walk 30 yards before I almost passed out.

    In 2000, I had a Laminectomy at L3/4. I woke up from the surgery and had no pain shooting down my leg. The incision ached a bit, but I had built up such a high tolerance for pain, the nurses were shocked that I didn't hit the pain button at all. I spend the month at home recovering, and by then my footdrop on the right side was gone.

    Now, before my surgery, I spent months in physical therapy, especially in the pool, trying to solve my problem, but there was no success. However, all the pool work had really strengthened my lower back muscles. I think that's what helped me recover so well. I had surgery on Feb 2, and I returned to work on March 3rd.

    I have a new herniation on my left side, at L4/5, which has caused total foot drop, because both the nerves at l4 and l5 are compressed. My NS said that he wanted me to have surgery before the end of the year, so I'll be doing mine in early November 2014. The NS is hopeful that my foot drop will improve.

    I was told it could take up to a year before you wouldn't improve any more, so don't lose hope. Right after surgery, if my foot drop is still present, I plan to get an orthotic to keep the foot up until it heals.

    Good luck in your endeavor.


    PS. I did take Topomax to help with the nerves. When I took Gabapentin/Neurontin, I would eat every thing in sight.
  • Whackedback -
    Thanks for that there is hope can't believe it came back after having it for almost a year,,,
    Sorry to hear you herniated again hope all goes well in November,, how long have you had your second hope it's not to painful,,,, I finely get my splint on the 11th of November,,, I can walk etc but outside I use a crutch has I still trip up you really have to concentrate on lifting that knee higher but you forget sometimes has you are probably aware from your first foot drop,,
    I believe it takes a long time for nerves to heel,, think I'm just being inpatient ive got 4 grandchildren ( omg that makes me feel old lol I'm only 47) and can't run after them like before and when I sit on the floor with them it takes me ages get back up has I can't feel halve my foot lol just so annoying and upsetting,,, still of work, has I stand most of the time and my foot swells after an 1-2 hours of walking and standing etc and can be painful,,,,,, so you change from gabapentin wondered why I eat all the time thought it was just me being greedy lol,,,,,
    Hope all goes well with your surgery,, keep in touch,, ,,, debbie
  • I had my surgery 5 days ago and woke up with foot drop. I had numbness before, but only to the ankle. I am really scared this is damage from the surgery. Has any one else had this and what was your outcome?
  • Debbied67DDebbied67 Posts: 100
    edited 10/28/2014 - 11:31 AM
    Hi mines different to yours has already had mine 2 months before surgery,,,, had it for nearly 4 months now,,, apparently I've been told the nerve takes a long time to heal,, not sure in your situation,,,, hope you get some answers, what has the surgeon said about it,,,I get a splint fitted in 2 weeks,,,, hopefully it will start to recover soon,,, thinking of you,,
  • yes I did in 6weeks now a lot of pain in low back.
    ben kamody
  • Hi so you recovered from foot drop in 6 weeks,,, that's brilliant wish I was the same,,had mine for 16 weeks now,, how did you get it,,
    Mine is driving me mad effecting my ankle now so painful at times when I do to much still of work from July ,,on nerve pain tabs but think they need increasing again,,,, glad to hear some good news,, thanks for that
  • I'm still relatively early in recovery (4 months). I had a very mild foot drop before my L4/L5 microdiscectomy. Perhaps one step in 200 and even then, I wouldn't stumble but my foot would lightly drag on the ground. This stayed about the same after the surgery until maybe one month ago where it started to reduce in frequency - perhaps one step in 500 or so. The last week I might have had three or so of these in 100,000 steps.
  • No. I Havent recover from my foot drop It is more pain than ever I had back surgery January 9,2013 L4/L5 bulging disc.It now been 11 months nothing having improve with my foot drop lower back pain all over again now my right hip is buckling pain going down my right leg im so afraid to walk I go to see my dr every 6week he is getting piss with me cause im not improving been going to PT for 6months I was discard with poor improving
  • I have foot drop too. I have a very long-winded journey documented in spine health and I honestly wish you all of the best. I wish there was a support group for people with foot drop. Maybe it can go through here.....
  • Fell off a mountain bike and right foot went numb a few days later (with significant foot drop)... decided to wait it out on the advice of family (huge mistake) but the pain became unbearable ... went to the neurosurgeon and emergency surgery the next day. Had L4-L5 disc laminectomy/ discectomy (doctor removed a piece of disc in my spinal canal pressed up against the nerve)...

    After surgery the pain was gone and I noticed a 10% improvement in the movement of my foot... but now 3 months into recovery, progress has slowed to a crawl with little improvement... luckily I am able to walk in high tops with just a ankle wrap on my leg... but my foot drop is prevalent and horrible while walking barefoot... so I basically never walk barefoot... I'm in shoes from the time I get up till I go to bed... foot aches and swells and I get a burning sensation in my toes now... not sure if this is good pain or not (hopefully nerves are regenerating). I do notice it has been easier to walk from when this first started but I'm not sure if this is nerve improvement or my brain retraining my muscles to compensate for on what I have to work with. I try to stay positive but I'm only 32 and was extremely active with young kids (I coached there basketball team). I don't wish this on my worst enemy!!!

    I am thankful I can still get around and do errands... but I can only walk everywhere... I walk up and down my apartment stairs (5 flights) a few times a day but its very difficult without holding on to the railing. I can ride my bike though... and do frequently which feels awesome stretching out my calf and ankle. I have muscle atrophy on the front of my leg and you can notice my bone showing slightly but I can still wear shorts without anyone really noticing. SO I guess I'm still on the fence and trying to adjust to this new reality!!!

    I'll really wish there was a support group with consolidated information and recommendations and result trials of different procedure/medicines. therapy people have tried!
  • Gust alynnGGust alynn Posts: 2
    edited 02/09/2015 - 11:01 AM
    I had acupuncture and went home from this and took a nap. I woke started getting out of bed and fell. I had drop foot never had it. I called the dr and I had emergency surgery for my lumbar spine. I had extensive physical therapy and got a lot back but not all of it back. I no longer need the brace and can walk okay but have to drive with 2 feet. As far as I know you can never get it all back, also I've heard the sooner it's taken care of the better that why I called the dr. And had surgery ASAP .
  • Hi all,,, Ibe still not seen anyone over my foot drop since it happened 7 months ago, I can move my toes abit,,,but my ankle won't move at all,, my spinal surgeon has left so only seen a nurse 4 weeks after my surgery in September,,,, said I would be seen in December no appoinment available ,,, should have been seen last week they cancelled 2 days before now have wait 4 weeks to see the surgeon,,,, surely I need to see someone over it be refered but not seen anyone to ask so annoying,,,, feel has though I've just been left to it,,, I had physio for awhile but have do them at home now,,,, hate my big plastic splint,,, but it helps a lot so have to put up with it,,,,just recently gone back to work after 6 months off,,, and I'm in pain first my back starts to hurt then my foot ,,,,, I'm hoping I can manage,,,,
  • I'm still hoping that my foot drop starts to lessen as time goes on. I had a 2 level laminectomy at L4/L5 on 11/25/2014. I got a carbon fiber foot brace a couple of weeks after surgery and it has helped my walking immensely. I see a PT next week to work on electro-stim to try and wake up the nerves.

  • Hi whackedback has it improved at all,,,, I'm still waiting to see my surgeon to refer me to see someone over my footdrop,, had it 7months now and only had physio for 2 months not that have do them at home,,,, I can't walk outside without my splint helps a lot but hurts after long periods of wearing it,,,,let me know how the electro - stim works for you,,, when you having it done
  • Hi DebbieD67

    I herniated a disc at L5/S1 in September 2013 and was left with footdrop on left foot. I had surgery in November 2013 which helped with the sciatic pain but did not resolve the footdrop. As many people have said on here, nerves take a long, long time to heal. I could not go on tiptoe on my left foot at all, no power there. I had EMG and nerve conductive tests in January this year which showed the the nerves were showing signs of reinnervating (undamaged nerves start to produce branches which then grow to replace/compensate for the damaged nerves). Consultant said I should hopefully have some improvement but probably never be 100%. In June this year, 20 months after the injury, I found I could push up on tiptoe ever so slightly. Its still pretty weak but I am hoping it will gradually improve.

    So there is hope, stay positive x
    Herniated L5/S1 disc - September 2013. Microdiscectomy - November 2013
  • Debbied67, just read your post and thought it was one of mine!!!
    I too work for the NHS and had a bulging disc on my L4/L5 and had it operated on within a month after they tried a spinal block which failed. Had the op on 23/04/15 and had some numbness in lower left leg and foot. Now left with loss of motor and sensory functions to lower left leg but mainly foot which means I walk with a limp, can't drive (as can't use clutch) have been told I don't have foot drop however when over tired it does drop and I can't even flex it up when going up a step etc. awaiting another MRI scan now and hoping as the elective nerve confuctions teta show lack of motor and sensory function and the consultant thinks I still have something pressing on my S1/L5 due to the pins and needles I get when passing a motion or having sex. I am too on gabapentin for the electric shock sensations I feel in my foot and calf. Wishing you wiell and hope you get some answers as I'm hoping I will as not ready to accept this is now permanent. All stemming from crippling back pain one weekend xx
  • I first damaged my back 6 years ago had an MRI which confirmed herniation l4 l5 but didnt have surgery as there was no sciatic pain. Had on and off pain for a few years which went with meds and rest but last week i got real bad sciatic pain. Couldnt get out of bed on monday. On tuesday i was feeling better so did some light stretches. By lunchtime i had a numb left leg. I thought i'd cut the blood supply off and just had pins and needles. After an hour i couldnt lift my foot at all and went to the Dr. He has arranged an MRI which I'm having today. I was given no advice or walking aids etc so this site has been valuable this week. I bought an orthotic online which helps a lot and borrowed some crutches, however the sofa and I have a new bond and spend far too much time together. Hopefully the results of the MRI will come quick and surgery follows as i cant work at all and live on the job. Worst of all is my wife and I ballroom dance and were just getting good. Would be nice to hear positive stories re foot drop so all hope of dancing again aren't lost.
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,422
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  • Did PT try neuromuscular stimulation in the clinic yet? Some insurances will cover a home unit if it helps. Please don't confuse this with a TENS unit, it's totally different. Good luck and keep working at it.
  • Pedrovette96PPedrovette96 New England USAPosts: 13
    I have the same post-op issues. Has been a year and still have them.
  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,422
    Welcome to Spine-Health
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  • Lily2014LLily2014 Posts: 84
    edited 11/11/2015 - 7:42 AM
    Hi, just wondering if people could update me about this topic in the months following surgery? I'm due to have discectomy at the weekend and just wondering what other people's experiences are of motor function improving after surgery? Last time I had surgery pain reduced straight away but sensation loss in foot never improved. It's never bothered me as it's only slight and I don't notice it that much apart from when someone touches my feet & it feels a bit numb. This time my toes barely move and ankle has restricted movement. Like some of you, if I've walked somewhere it can drop completely and I trip over. Not had this before. Interested to know what recovery from this is likely to be? I've done research which suggests that full recovery to normal is likely to be 60-80% which I think is quite good odds (that is if you have surgery within 8 weeks on symptom onset which I am just). Thanks
  • I had bilateral discectomy after suffering complete foot drop. I literally had zero movement. My surgery was 8 days after the foot drop and i was told it was probably too late. I started physio 1 week after surgery with still no movement. My physio loaned me an electric neuro stimulation device which created a flicker in my ankle. I ran a disuse atrophy programme 3 times a day for 2 weeks and saw slight improvement every day. First i could raise my big toe then slowly able to walk without an orthotic. I am now back to 5/5 both sides are equal in strength. I sometimes get pain on the top of my foot after walking as th muscles tighten. I have spoken to someone recently who also had foot drop that ran a half marathon after seeing the same physio. Don't give up hope.
  • MrIMMrI United KingdomPosts: 47
    Debbie 67

    Did your drop foot resolve, how about an update?
  • Anyone with an update of how they are doing now?
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