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L2-3 Herntiation w/ Bilateral Foot Drop!

Started by BrokenBackUnder30 on 09/17/2017 7:27pm

Hello all,
A little background, I am a very active 28 year old male (gym, football and basketball addict). I hurt myself working out at the gym on January 23rd; felt two small pops in my back while doing a dead lift. I have been doing them for years, so I know that I definitely broke form. The next morning was quite rough withintense back pain and bilateral foot drop with almost zero strength in both legs below the knees.
I called my doc, described by symptoms, and scheduled an appointment on Wednesday. He immediately examined me and got me scheduled for a MRI (herniation blocking 90% of spinal canal). The results were read and I was told to go to the hospital by the consulting neurosurgeon. They initially wanted surgery done on Thursday however started IV steroids to relieve the inflammation. Friday they decided to operate. L2-L3 laminectomy and discectomy (20% disc removal) w/ no hardware. The surgeons words were “the disc was staring at me.”
Now the fun recovery portion began. The first 2 weeks there was little progress besides some strength recovery and confidence enough to move a bit more. There was always the thought that I might pop my stitches (even though I knew that was a very low possibility as long as I didn’t do anything really stupid). End of week 2 I started home physical therapy focusing on leg movement and using bands to continue stimulating my ankles in hopes of waking up the nerves. At this time I had a walker and a wheelchair that I used quite heavily to get around easily.
By week 3 my left foot was making good progress, much better than my right. By this time, I was relying less on the wheelchair and more on the walker.
By week 4 & 5 I was being driven to the local physical therapy place specializing in neuro injuries. They pushed me quite a bit. At times it was discouraging when I couldn’t do the simple things that I was so easily able to accomplish before. My goal at this time was to get away from the walker which I was still using to get everywhere. My left foot at this point was back to 80% which I was quite relieved. My right foot still had no progress.
Week 6 was the first time I tried to use the cane, and somehow I managed to take a few steps with it. That brought the confidence back! That is what I tried to rely on most, but used the walker when I got really tired. Physical therapy was still going on focusing on movement and strength. It’s amazing how much strength you lose in such a short period of time! By this time, my left foot drop had resolved completely and the strength was almost back to 100%. My right foot drop had minimal progress.
By week 8 I was using the cane less and less. My main focus was mobility and restoring the lost strength. However, my right foot drop was still present to a pretty good degree. To the point that I cannot wear flip flops and trip every now and then if I didn’t high step enough. This is also about the time that I finally returned to work.
After this point, I continued to do physical therapy focusing on overall strength and proper body mechanics. To this day, my right foot drop is still continuing to heal with slow improvement that I measure on a weekly basis. I was finally able to do a light jog around week 12 but I think that was more of a mental hurdle. Now I can do a light sprint, however still not a full out run. As far as returning to working out, I have returned to the gym and lifting lighter weights with a great big focus on proper body mechanics.
What I have learned after all this whole ordeal, is do NOT lose confidence. The body is an amazing machine with a great ability to recover given you allow it to with rest and time. However, the confidence and mental toughness is a huge obstacle. Also, I learned eating properly helped me a lot. Foods high in B vitamins and staying away from the junk food to minimize inflammatory responses within the body (also keeping off the weight due to lack of movement). For those going through an ordeal, do NOT lose hope and get discouraged. Everybody recovers at a different pace and unfortunately nobody can give an exact time frame on when you will be fully recovered.

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1 Response


Hello, BrokenBackUnder30--we were so encouraged reading your story! You cover many excellent points about the spine surgery experience--the importance of listening to your body, staying mentally and emotionally strong throughout the physical rebuilding process, and even the importance of good nutrition throughout spine surgery recovery.

For other readers of your post, we'd like to share some resources specifically to your point about healthy eating and spine surgery recovery:
( After Spine Surgery: Eat Right to Heal Fast )
( 7 Meal Plan Tips for Spine Surgery Recovery )

Thanks again for sharing your story with us. We wish you continued success throughout the rest of your recovery!