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Posted in: Herniated disc, and Sciatica.

L4-L5 laminectomy/discetomy and Foot drop

From: back_pak10 - on 10/01/2010 2:29am

After reading the blogs on this board I think my issue is very common and frustrating for everyone. I recently underwent a discetomy after I was hospitalized in excruciating pain (extreme sciatica). The neurosurgeon was not quick to jump into surgery initially until he assessed my foot drop...After I was able to better articulate my symptoms once the meds were keeping the pain down. More than just a leg weakness I was experiencing foot drop. Now comes the medical mystery part. After the surgery, pain was gone and I feel good. The only thing I am frustrated with is the foot drop which has not responded as I had hoped. My doc has scheduled me for another mri in a few weeks should I not regain movement. So many possibilities from scar tissue to a cyst may be compounding the issue. I continue to exercise my foot, eat well and take supplements more specifically B-12 (methyl and benfotiamine- more for diabetics but trying for some nerve benefit). Some people around me don't seem to understand my frustration and difficulty in the dorsal flexion. My PT has tried different approaches and continues to try but reiterates the best way to induce signal in the nerve is to exercise and focus on movements which involve the peroneal (turning foot inward and upward). I realize the damage done to the nerve could take 12 months to get better (if not damaged beyond the point of no return), I would like to know what others have tried and found to be helpful or not. FYI, I limit my use of the AFO to the times I am really exhausted or I need to walk relatively normal.

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6 Responses

on 10/28/2010 5:08pm

I'm in the same boat as you. I had surgery 2 weeks ago and have been told by my neurosurgeon to be patient that it might take a while for the nerves to heal. I will be cleared in 2 weeks to begin PT for my foot drop. How long did you suffer from foot drop b/f you had surgery. My neurosurgeon has said that surgery is needed immediately and that the longer one goes w/o surgery, the more likely the patient will not regain function of the foot again. I went 10 days before I had surgery and his prognosis was grim.
I am working to keep my muscle strength by stretching. I also understand that the NESS L 300 device can help patients keep their muscles from weakening and make walking possible because it stimulates the nerves to work. I believe Medicare covers this very pricey device.
Having foot drop just plain sucks!

on 10/30/2010 2:32am


My foot drop was an immediate symptom and emergency surgery performed within 3 days. Same as you, my neurosurgeon also stated the longer the worse off I would be. In the past 2 weeks I have noticed an improvement in my gait however I tend to think my body is compensating for the lack of "normal" function. My PT has done ultrasound on the tibialis anterior as well as electrical stimulation and traction with very little progress. I have also been told contradictory statements regarding which function, motor or sensory, returns first. Are you or did you experience numbness in the calf/lower leg? I will keep you posted of my progress and insight which might be useful/promising.

on 12/02/2010 11:03am

Hi Back pak10,

I have made alot of improvement in my recovery. I am in PT about 3 times a week and am working on my core stability. I have about 50% movement of my foot and when I am tired use an very comfortable AFO called "Foot Up." I am walking without my cane and it certainly takes alot of concentration to keep my core muscles tight and walk heel to toe. I manage to have a normal, non-gimpy walk about half the time. My main shin muscle (for lack of the proper name) is just beginning to work . My main issue now is muscle weakness in my leg/hip/buttocks area.

I do not have numbness at all now but I certainly did before. The numbness was very irritating so I am glad that feeling to my foot and shin have returned.

I hope your recovery is going well!

on 03/29/2012 1:44am

I apologize for butting in your conversation, but I have some questions. I have spent 8 weeks with foot drop and another 2 before I can have my surgery for herniated disc. My neurologist said the pain should go away soon after surgery but it will take months to regain normal foot use. I am not nervous about the surgery but about the foot drop. I walk extremely slow and usually hold on to something or someone when I walk. My job, which I have missed these past 8 weeks requires lots of walking. I am curious what you all think my chances of full recovery are and about how long? If you have any tips I would greatly appreciate them also.

Thank you

on 12/27/2012 3:47pm

Hi Janet Damnit - I'm probably facing surgery to correct foot drop caused by the herniated disc and have an appointment Dec 31 with the neurosurgeon. I've been doing intensive PT for about 2 months but foot drop hasn't improved but I'm going to continue PT through January. The neurosurgeon is very conservative and requires patients to try all other therapies before operating to cut out the portion of disc impinging on the sciatic nerve and I totally agree as well as the PT team.

How are you doing since Dec 2? Would you be willing to talk about your symptoms which sound so much like what I've experienced with numbness in shin, foot after the burning nerve pain finally subsided 5 weeks into my injury in Sept? I'm glad to have finally found a forum to see what other patients have experienced and am taking note every step of the way!

Bottom line: I don't like have a fall ing risk looming with each step. Also the doctor said if he were him, he'd have the surgery performed after trying extensive conservative therapies.

Thanks for any information you share with me!

Karen - Boise, Idaho

on 03/22/2013 9:32pm

I started having terrific pain in my right leg, over whelming. After a visit to the ER, my orthopedic surgeon, back doctor and finally a neurosurgeon, It was confirm that I herniated L4&L5. The foot drop started immediately. Its been 30 days exactly since my problem started. I have taken 2 epidural shots and that has helped the pain, but no improvement to the foot drop. When I asked all the doctors about the foot drop and it being permanent, they told me I was within the window before I need surgery. I am scheduled to visit my neurosurgeon in 4 days, and my thoughts are to press to have the as soon as possible.... Any thoughts??