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Severe Pain While Walking & Foot Drop. What is next?

RigelmeisterRRigelmeister Posts: 3

Last year, when I was just 19, I started feeling burning sensation and tingling while walking which then was followed by numbness and pain. I didn't care much about it since I didn't move much. I thought it was because my muscles are not used to walking & movement. Later on, throughout the year, the immense pain which gradually increased became unbearable. Then, I realized that I had difficulty bending my ankle. I mean, dorsiflexion. When I walk, I just lose control of my foot and can't lift it from the ankle.

Very scared, I've seen three different orthopedists. I had EMG, x-ray and MRI scans from my ankles and feet. Nothing wrong was seen. My nerves responded very well, there was no lesion at all around my ankles or feet. Everything seems perfect. Still, my orthopedist gave me an ankle supporter which completely vanished the pain - only for 2 months. After that, even with ankle supporter (I think it's called AFO in English, just an elastic thing to keep foot in place) I started feeling the pain again.

Just a few days ago, finally, I saw a neurologist and she was suspicious of herniated disc. Tonight I am gonna have my MRI scan and see the doctor on Nov 18.

Until two years ago, I've done many sports. Now I can barely walk. I am not a doctor but what my research showed me is terrifying. I am really scared that I won't be able to play basketball again or simply run or walk. I think something is wrong with my L5 S1 disc because everything my doctor told me about this disc is true. I mean, the pain she described that happens because of L5 S1 is just what I have. Moreover, I know that L5 is responsible for ankle dorsiflexion, which I can't perform.

So, from now on, what do you think will happen? I have serious pain and trouble walking. My questions are,

1) Before surgery, will my doctor try physical therapy? Or is it too late for something like that, as I really have trouble walking? Just a few steps and boom, my foot drops.

2) If a surgery is needed, is it a dangerous one or what is the likelihood of success? According to the tests conducted, my nerves are perfectly fine. I mean, EMG results. So as my nerves are OK, do you think a surgery to decompress the disc would do the job for me?

3) I've been having this pain since 3-4 years ago, but back then, it was very very little that I didn't even care or know what it was about. Is it too late to cure?

4) In January, I have to leave for abroad. Would any kind of surgery I might have require 1-month rest? I mean, if I have surgery on December 15 for example, may I be able to leave the country on January 10? How much should I stay in bed & out of action after possible surgeries?

I feel really terrible and am in need of some relief.


  • LizLiz Posts: 7,832
    edited 11/07/2014 - 7:15 AM

    Liz, Spine-health Moderator

    Spinal stenosis since 1995
    Lumber decompression surgery S1 L5-L3[1996]
    Cervical stenosis, so far avoided surgery
  • Hi Liz,

    Firstly, thanks for your answers. But I've already written many things about foot drop, including the ones you showed me. My intention is, if possible, to get some idea about what I might see from now on. I believe I have foot drop but does it require surgery? May I be able to walk again properly? Of course, you can't know that without MRI scans but I just want ideas.
  • smartens162smartens162 Manitoba, CanadaPosts: 359
    before surgery! It has helped me immensely since my injury - a ruptured L5-S1 - in March 2014. The PT does not do much for the nerve pain I have, but it is possible to rehabilitate if the disc is not too bad off. I certainly would not worry about surgery of any kind just yet. My father had trouble with several bulging discs that rendered him pretty helpless due to pain, but in a few PT sessions he was back to working construction, that was a few years ago now. I am being scheduled for surgery, a discectomy (day surgery), but only because I have tried other less invasive treatments first and they can only take me so far. Wishing you all the best!
  • sandisandi Posts: 6,343
    edited 11/08/2014 - 4:45 AM
    the questions you asked. Those need to be answered by your surgeon and he would have to determine the best surgical approach and type based on his examination of you, and the images. Whether or not physical therapy would be trialed before surgery, depends on your symptoms and what the surgeon feels might be helpful for you. Surgery may or may not be necessary, again it depends on what the surgeon finds when he examines you, and what the images show.
    The type of surgery determines the restrictions and limitations and how long those are in place post op, and the outcome of nerve recovery depends on the condition of the nerves prior to surgery, if there is any permanent damage, and if not, nerve recovery, can take some weeks and sometimes months to completely recover from.
    Once you recover from the acute post op period, there may be restrictions/limitations for some months , depending on how you recover, so you really need to see a surgeon for a consult and ask him these questions.
  • Thank you for the answer, sandi.

    I will receive my MRI scan results on Nov 13. May I write what's on it here then and again ask for your opinions? I will be able to see the doctor only on Nov 18 - five days after getting the results. I am very anxious and excited, to be honest. Now, it's difficult to predict it, I understand. But when results are out and show what is wrong with my back, then maybe something more can be said about the situation.
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