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Can foot drop heal on its own?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
Anyone heard of this, have any research on this? I have a large L5 herniation per 11/20/08 MRI and foot drop. 3 Docs all say no surgery since I am not in dramatic pain. I don't know what to do and haven't heard any case of foot drop every "healing" without surgery.



  • In my opinion, there is noooo way it will go away on its own. Part of the reason I had my surgery was because of my drop foot, we didnt want permanent damage done to any nerve if it could be rescued. I had surgery three and a half weeks ago and after 15 months of living with drop foot I can finally move it again. Rule of thumb if the drop foot doesnt go away within six weeks on its own, its more than likely not going to without decompressing the nerve. Drop foot doesnt have to hurt. Mine didnt it was numb, if it hurt I didnt know it. The same day as my surgery I was able to lift my foot again. I would lean towards no it doesn't heal itself unless the nerve that is being pinched somehow becomes...unpinched. Then again if there has been damage done to the nerve, surgery doesnt mean it will fix the drop foot. A nerve test should be done first in my opinion. I had one done and none of my major nerves were damaged so we proceeded with the fusion and, drop foot is fixed :)
  • Thanks, The 3 surgeons I saw all said no to surgery. I'm going to get 2 more opinions (1 neuro, 1 ortho). I am shocked they said the "treatment" was to wear an AFO brace. I'm getting really depressed by the whole thing, and no help.

    Thanks for your answer, and glad to hear to are recovering so well! You've had to go through a lot.
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  • about drop foot, I have found that it is caused by some sort of pinched nerve or damaged nerve. It can either occur at the back or at the knee. It is a symptom of something that is wrong with a nerve and I would reccomend getting opinions like you said from two other doctors. I would also strongly recomend you ask for a nerve test to see if your nerves are responsive, to see if any nerve has suffered severe damage. I believe its called EMG and they will send a small electric current right at the nerve sights using small pads to see if your muscle contracts still. Its a good test, not painful just a little wierd feeling. The test confirmed that I had a good chance that after surgery I could regain function of my foot again.
    I understand your frustration and depression by not getting an answer that makes sense. I believe the braces and supports for drop foot only help keep the strength in the muscles related to the foot (could be wrong). As for me my muscle was just going to continue to atrophy as it wasn't recieving the signal to move and flex, but my nerves according to the test said they were not damaged, just pinched or compressed. Research what you can and when you see the doctors express what you have learned and have a list of concerns and questions for them, and I strongly reccomend asking one of them to have the nerve test conducted. PM me if you would like. Drop foot is annoying and depressing and sending your sandle like a missle in the summer just isnt fashionable. haha. Let me know how it goes.
  • Can i get your views on night splints? I've got dropped foot as a result of disc compression. I've had surgery to correct the discs but still suffer from drop foot. Did you/do you wear night splints in addition to da splints? The reason i ask is because i find them uncomfortable and also cant put them on without help. Thanks Andy
  • I have drop foot in my right leg. I have over 60% loss in my right leg up to my back. I have had two EMG (Nerve Conductivity Test) tests done. I wear a AFO. I have had this for over two years now. I had two back surgeries. I was told from my second back doctor that the first doctor cut my L5 nerve. My second surgery was a L5 S1 fusion and a L5 nerve decompression. I have had physical Therapy. I went to a foot and ankle specialist a few days ago. I wanted to see if I could get a tendon transfer. He said a foot uses 6 tendons. I only have one tendon working in my leg. That one is the one that I use to balance with. So I am not the ideal person for this surgery. I can push down with my foot and outwards. My foot is cold and different color than the other leg. My leg is getting smaller than the other one. I am numb from my knee down. My foot gets really dry. I fall also because I hate wearing the AFO.
    I am losing my job as of the 6th of Jan. I recieved my paperwork from HR on the 24th of Dec. I loved my job! I was a city bus driver. Since I have drop foot in my driving leg, it's not safe for me to drive bus. My leg gets weak really quick and if I over use it (which doesn't take much) I will get leg spasms really bad. That one tendon has to do all the work for the rest of the tendons. I was 33 when this started. My life has changed and it's very depressing! I have acute panick attacks like crazy now. I have a great family and I try to tell myself I will be fine and I will have to rethink about what I am going to do with my life. I loved my job!
    So I don't want to keep going on because I will get more depressed. I just wanted to let you know everything I have been through. Maybe you need to get a EMG done, then if it is damaged. You might be able to get a tendon transfer done. If it is pinched, nerve decompression done like the other person said. Good luck! For what I have been told it can take up to a year for people to get their leg back after surgery. My back doctor told me numbness and weakness scares him because it means nerve damage is going to start or is starting. So please check into everything. I had to do some of my own research because no one told me about tendon transfers. So I asked him about it. He said he didn't think it would work for me. He still sent me to a doctor that is a specialist in the field. So he was right. It isn't going to work for me but he said most people it does work great for. I just don't have any tendons working. please check into it because the longer you wait to find out, you are causing more damage. EMG, then a tendon doctor if you are not needing a nerve decompression done. This is my option and a part of my story. I am sharing this because I am going through this for a while now and it might not be so good for me but for you, it might be the right thing. It doesn't hurt to ask the doctor about this at all. Be pro active about your case.
    Take care
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  • SuhailKausarSSuhailKausar Posts: 1
    edited 04/15/2013 - 1:29 AM
    My Younger Brother had a horrible Road accident in September 2012. He Injured his Left leg fracturing Thigh Bone, Knee and another Fracture just above his Toe. He went under 8 hours Successful Operation and it all went fine. They inserted two rods one in thigh another in Leg. The most amazing thing is that he started walking without any support after 20 days of his operation. For whole Family, Friends and even for Doctor this was an Amazing Recovery. But since then he is suffering from Foot Drop. He is using AFO to walk. When ever we consult with Doctor he tells us to give more time to it. There is small recovery in his foot. He can Move his Fingers downwards. Being a good Sports Man, he even tries to runs sometimes. I am really worried about his condition. He is out of his College team for 6 months and no idea for how long I have to wait to see him In team again. I would need some suggestions, Should I go ahead for a nerve test for my brother or should I just wait as doctor advised. Also if he goes under a Nerve Operation. How long that operation will be? How many chances are their that he gets a full recovery. Any help or suggestion will be appreciated.
    Suhail K.
  • Robert LojewskiRRobert Lojewski Posts: 1
    edited 07/20/2013 - 9:53 AM
    Yes, Yes and Yes. In early May I developed foot drop from doing my son's roof for 6 days. I lost about 4-5 inches of movement on my right foot and it dragged. Now its July 20th and I have regained all but maybe 1/2 inch of movement. I still don't have all the strength for pulling the foot up but its increasing all the time. I have no doubt that I will soon be back to 100% of normal. I can walk, hike and climb mountains now as I used too. When it first happened I could hardly drive my truck and now I don't even notice it. I did my own therapy of a lot of bike riding and walking. Also kept pulling my foot up with a rope. We have stairs in our home and I kept going up and down the stairs. It was very slow at first and I could only notice a slight improvement the first 3 weeks. So I went to see my doctor. He prescribed a one week treatment of a steroid to relieve swelling around the injured nerve. He said then I just needed time to heal. So don't give up out there as it can heal.
  • All of the doctors i have talked to so far-- including the ones that have thoroughly disagreed with each other-- all have stated that foot drop can indeed go away.
  • The only problem being that the details into how exactly it does "go away" are pretty vague, to say the least.

    Wahini, are you able to stand on your one foot with your toes off the ground, foot dorsiflexed?
  • Yes it can come back. I was left with little hope from Doctors. Shot in left leg at close range 9mm hollowpoint. Entered 4 in above inside knee/exited 8in above outside knee. MRI didnt reveal actual severed nerve, just big glob of tissue. No movement or feeling other than intense pain for 12 months. EMG showed no axons flowing from sciatic in thigh to lower leg. Seen 2 surgeons who both did not want to operate. Foot was frozen in an "exceptable" position. Physical Therapy till insurance ran out provided no results. Began to accept lifelong injury and got on
    with life. At the 13th month slight movement in ankle (able to push). 15 month can now feel tibial activating (pull up). Muscles are reforming in calf and very slight movement in tibia; and 4-5 inch push-down moevment. Pain is similar to when I was shot, but movement is a GODSEND! I will go through all the pain neccessary to get my foot back. Its been 15 months so there is hope!
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