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Foot drop after lumbar disk herniation

I herniated L4-5 2 years ago and had a remarkable recovery - resorbed the disk matter and got back to excellent health. Then, I herniated L5-S1 and ended up, overnight, with a nearly-total right foot drop. I had a minimally invasive diskectomy so the pain is gone, but apparently the dammage to the peroneal nerve was already done because I still cannot dorsiflex much at all. My condition has not changed in 11 months, despite amazing PT and daily exercise. Should I be giving up hope of return? Should I look into nerve transplant? Anyone hear of people getting movement back after a year of nada?


  • I've not had back surgery yet, mine has been in the neck - but this year L5/S1 and L2/3/4 are on the "to do list" as they say.

    Nerves tend to recover slowly - at about 1mm a day, and with that stated, it can take 1-2 years to reach their maximum medical recovery. I was told (neck) that I had damage at around 6 months via EMG studies, but until last week, it wasn't listed "as damage" until now. Almost 2 years post op from my last surgery.

    From what I've read of folks with foot drop, patience might be the virtue. I hope you do regain use of your foot - so don't give up yet. On the flip side, there are leg/foot straps you can get that will help in the mean while with holding the foot up, and thus letting you get more support and use out of it. Fingers crossed that you will regain full use of it.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • 5yrs ago my left foot suddenly dropped while I was walking. Was taken to Hospital for a discectomy and laminactomy. My L4/5 disc had herniated and compressed the nerve. The peroneal nerve was affected and at first I was paralysed from the hip down but over the next 9 months the nerve regenerated down to my knee and then stopped. The higher up the damage the less chance of recovery because the nerves regenerate so slowly. I was told for up to 2 years but mine stopped at 9months. 2 1/2 years later I had a tendon transfer i.e. the tendon in the lower front of your leg is taken out and split in two and stitched to each side of your ankle.
    Unfortunately for me it wasn't successful probably because of my age, but even though my ankle doesn't move it has been lifted up from that surgery and I can wear regular shoes and no more foot drop. This would be worth pursueing if you don't fully recover.
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  • I went thru my foot drop brace and PT, graduated to high top tennis shoes--(quite the fashion statement for a 50 something woman!!)
    After about a year I was in regular complete shoes--not any cute shoes--heels or backless shoes.
    Now I can wear some backless shoes as long as they fit well, still no heels.
    I can wear the NIKE brand-sort of memory foam flip flops if I an not walking too far--such as into a restaurant.
    Foot drop occurred three years ago, and I have continued to exercise after PT was stopped.
  • I had an L4-L5 dischetomy and woke with nerve damage to my Femoral and 3 other nerves in the right leg. I have about 10% use of the leg. The surgery was a little over a year ago with only slight improvement in mobility and pain. I am hopefull my nerves are still regenerating at least the sensory nerves. I can live with a cane but the cronic pain really gets to you after a while.
  • In October, 2009, I had tremendous back pain on a Friday night and later found out that I herniated my L4 L5 disc. I called my Spine Specialist and he prescribed muscle relaxants and painkillers and I had an appointment for Monday. Over the weekend, my right foot dropped and I had a Lumbar MRI on Sunday. By Monday, I couldn't walk anymore, and my husband had to wheel me up to my doctor's office. After an exam and looking at my MRI, he said that I had badly herniated L4 L5 disc and that it was crushing my spinal canal and that I also had 100% foot drop on my right foot. He sent me straight to the hospital from his office for emergency back surgery. I had a discectomy and 3 laminectomies. I was in the hospital for 4 days.

    I came home with a walker and had to have a custom AFO brace with a hinge on the heel made for my right leg. I could barely walk even with the walker and the brace and needed help for everything. I had a shower chair and a raised toilet seat and moving around was an ordeal even with help. I could not move my toes at all and dragged my foot around without the brace.

    Four weeks after my surgery, a healing evangelist, Freddy Clark, came to our church. My son drove me to church. I could not even get up the altar steps. They helped me up there. He laid hands on me and told me to move my toes. Instantly the big toe on my right foot started to move up and down. Within minutes, I was walking up and down those same altar steps that I almost fell off of 5 minutes before. I never used the walker after that night and the brace came off my leg within a few days.

    Freddy Clark teaches that miracles are instantaneous and healings are progressive to produce faith. I got both that night.

    My dad was in a nursing home at the time 1,200 miles away. Before I got healed, I would lay in bed and think if he passed away, how was I ever going to make it to his funeral. Well, 4 weeks after my surgery, I got healed and 4 weeks after that, my Dad passed away. I was able to fly down for his funeral with no walker and no brace. My right foot is completely restored, my back is healed and I walk completely normally since the end of 2009. I thank God every day and give Him all the glory, honor, praise and a million, million thanks. God is still in the miracle working and healing business. He is a good God. My spinal surgeon is still amazed.
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