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Old 04-16-2012, 12:13 PM   #1
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Question Foot drop after L5-S1 disectomy😞

Last may i herniated a disc in my back. It was a large one with severe sciatic pain down right leg. i did physical therapy and had 2 epidural injections. But the pain was so bad after 6 months i has a lumbar discectomy at L5-S1. the sciatic is better but i woke up with severe numbness and foot drop. Most of the numbness is gone and i can move my foot and toes but still have problems. Ive had 2 mris post op and the surgeon says im a puzzle. Not what u want to hear from your doc! He says they look good and the area affected should be a L4-L5 injury. Im still in physical therapy and get discouraged it will never get back to normal. Has this happened ro anyone else?

 
Old 04-16-2012, 01:50 PM   #2
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Re: Foot drop after L5-S1 disectomy😞

Foot drop is a fairly rare side effect that can occur in lower lumbar surgeries. Everyone I know who has had this happen has had the surgeon say the same thing. They have no idea why it happened, etc. I've always wonder if it really is the first time the surgeon has had a patient with that unintended result. At present there is a poster on the board, Bracer, who had a fusion at L5-S1 that developed drop foot post surgery. You can find some old posts from him or others who have had foot drop.

I'm sorry you are having this problem. Have you had any nerve testing like an EMG? Sometimes the damage is not permanent and the nerve will regenerate.

You mention that you are getting some feeling back. Are you able to walk or do you need a brace?

 
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Old 04-16-2012, 02:05 PM   #3
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Re: Foot drop after L5-S1 disectomy😞

Thanks for replying. The doctor is so frustrating! I wondered the same thing as you if it happens or he was "shocked" and i was a "puzzle"I have had an emg recently and no compression on the pereneal nerve. And the nerves are attached to themuscles. And thats good i guess. I can walk, although i limp and foot twnds to flop.I tried a brace cause my ankle wants to turn. But they hurt so i just use an ace bandage wrap for support. Im getting my dorsiflexion back but have almost no inversion. Its very frustrating since i have 3 active kids who are in sports and im driving them everywhere. Its my right foot too and that makes it hard to drive. Just praying it isnt permanent nerve damage.

 
Old 04-16-2012, 02:45 PM   #4
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Re: Foot drop after L5-S1 disectomy😞

Are you going to a PT for the foot drop? I spent last winter with my 90-year old aunt who had a stroke and lost the use of her right side. I sat in on so many sessions of PT work for drop foot. I would think you might benefit from some specific guidance. I know the situations are different but I would still think that working the proper muscles in an effective way could not help but be beneficial.

I've had three lumbar surgeries, two fusions and a smaller procedure in between and used two different surgeons. I got to be pretty good friends with one surgeon. I recall him telling me one day how outcomes could be very frustrating. The same day he had one patient where he was convinced she'd end up with permanent damage as he had to work so hard to free up a nerve that was badly compressed and entangled in scar tissue. He described how he pulled and tugged on the nerve. The next patient had a similar problem, but things went very smoothly and, in his mind, it was a perfect surgery. Several days later he got the message that one of his surgical patients had developed drop foot and he assumed it was the patient where he had treated the nerve roughly. But no. She was fine and recovered without incident. It was the textbook perfect surgery where the candidate developed foot drop a couple days post surgery and he was totally baffled.

So I don't mean to suggest the surgeon is lying...I just wonder if they have never had it happen before...

That's a good sign if you can dorsi-flex. It sounds like you'll be able to recover...but it can take awhile. Try to stay positive and keep working it. There are some vitamins you can take that "might" help -- I always feel it probably wouldn't hurt and might just aid the body in helping the nerves.

How is the rest of your recovery going? Did the surgery resolve your pain?

 
Old 04-16-2012, 06:44 PM   #5
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Re: Foot drop after L5-S1 disectomy😞

I didnt mean to suggest the doctor was lying... Its just the last thing you want to hear from your doc is that they dont know how it happened or whats wrong. Or your a puzzle. Im sure every case is diffrent. My foot was fine before surgery and he said the surgery went perfectly.
I am going to physical therapy. I do lots of excersises every day specifically for the foot drop. I use therabands and lots of silly things around the house. My daughters favorite game is try and pick up markers with our feet. My planters reflex is coming back along with dorsi flex. Its the eversion and inversion thats being so stubborn. We are also doing E-stem machine at therapy. It is uncomfortable but not real painful. Seems to be helping with the nerves. I know i need to be patient but there is always so much to do and this floppy foot is a pain. And it does get sore and the exersices can be painful but nothing like before.
But the surgery did end most of the pain so overall im happy i did it. The sciatic was so unbearable. And i was very stubborn and refused pain meds. They make me feelsick to my stomach and out of it. Which i cant have with a family to take care of. What kind of vitamins do you thinkmight help? I drink lots of decaff green tea for antioxidants and try to remember my multi vitamin. Oh and the circulation isnt so good sometimes so the foot throbs and turns kinda blue. Any advise on that? Thanks for writing and im trying to stay positive....and have patience..thats the hard part. But it be worse so in that respect im very lucky so i try to remember that.

 
Old 04-16-2012, 06:46 PM   #6
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Re: Foot drop after L5-S1 disectomy😞

I didnt mean to suggest the doctor was lying... Its just the last thing you want to hear from your doc is that they dont know how it happened or whats wrong. Or your a puzzle. Im sure every case is diffrent. My foot was fine before surgery and he said the surgery went perfectly.
I am going to physical therapy. I do lots of excersises every day specifically for the foot drop. I use therabands and lots of silly things around the house. My daughters favorite game is try and pick up markers with our feet. My planters reflex is coming back along with dorsi flex. Its the eversion and inversion thats being so stubborn. We are also doing E-stem machine at therapy. It is uncomfortable but not real painful. Seems to be helping with the nerves. I know i need to be patient but there is always so much to do and this floppy foot is a pain. And it does get sore and the exersices can be painful but nothing like before.
But the surgery did end most of the pain so overall im happy i did it. The sciatic was so unbearable. And i was very stubborn and refused pain meds. They make me feelsick to my stomach and out of it. Which i cant have with a family to take care of. What kind of vitamins do you thinkmight help? I drink lots of decaff green tea for antioxidants and try to remember my multi vitamin. Oh and the circulation isnt so good sometimes so the foot throbs and turns kinda blue. Any advise on that? Thanks for writing and im trying to stay positive....and have patience..thats the hard part. But it be worse so in that respect im very lucky so i try to remember that.

 
Old 04-19-2012, 09:49 AM   #7
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Re: Foot drop after L5-S1 disectomy😞

Hi, Soccermom3:

If your dorsiflexion is returning in your drop foot, I think you should feel reasonably positive about your recovery. From the MANY people I've discussed the post-op foot drop situation with, very few have any real dorsiflexion recovery. The eversion and inversion seem to come back within 6-12 months with most folks who see any recovery there, so take heart and be patient.

I am curious as to how much your dorsiflexion has returned and by what method are you determining the recovery. It's extremely encouraging to hear success stories of returning dorsiflexion in foot drop that resulted from some unknown event that happened during surgery. If you read my posts on this, you'll see that I was told a number of things by several doctors, most of which turned out to be untrue. However, I may have to revise my thinking on recovery because I've noticed a change in my own dorsiflexion and other drop foot problems. While time may have been the answer, I found a therapeutic device that was introduced to me following my December surgery and it seemed to give results that were quite pleasing. My insurance refused to pay for it, but I bought one off the internet and use it daily with the guidance of my physical therapist (I see him every four weeks now). It was expensive, but it targets the ankle and lower leg muscles. I think it is fantastic.
Best wishes!

Last edited by moderator2; 04-22-2012 at 07:42 AM.

 
Old 04-19-2012, 01:16 PM   #8
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Re: Foot drop after L5-S1 disectomy😞

Nice to see you on the board again, Bracer. Even a little bit of progress sounds like good news, and I hope the speed of progress will pick up for you.

I just returned from seeing my aunt. We flew out for her 90th birthday party. I was so thrilled to see the progress she is making. Her foot still slaps a little bit, especially when she gets tired, but she now walks around her little house without a cane.

 
Old 04-19-2012, 04:54 PM   #9
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Re: Foot drop after L5-S1 disectomy😞

Hi...I had surgery for the second time on l5/s1 in Dec. And still have Nerve problems...doc said I will need fusion. I am trying to prove him wrong and have started pt. I heard u mention an e stem machine....what is that? Maybe I missed it but what vitamins did tethering suggest? Anyone else have nerve problems after lamin. And had success with pt swimming etc. Thanks and good luck to you...this board is AMAZING!

 
Old 04-19-2012, 09:35 PM   #10
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Re: Foot drop after L5-S1 disectomy😞

alida,

The reason many people are still in pain after surgery is because the pain generator has not been found ( or one was taken care of but there was more than one to begin with.)

A laminectomy is performed to make more space for the spinal nerve. Apparently yours is still being compressed at some point. Unless there is something that can heal up on its own that is pressing on the nerve, I doubt that any type of exercise or therapy is going to resolve your pain.

But it certainly doesn't hurt to try. You don't really know what is causing the pain...perhaps it will be something that will respond.

E-stim is like a fancy TENS unit. I don't think the use of e-stim will make any difference, either, because while it would work to stimulate the nerve, it will make no difference in resolving the issue of compression.

 
Old 04-20-2012, 06:38 AM   #11
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Re: Foot drop after L5-S1 disectomy😞

Hi bracer,
I was hoping you would see my post. So glad to hear about your recovery progress. It is encouraging it happens very slowly so try to stay positive. I was also told many things. Ive discovered really only time will tell. And lots of hard work! But i dont need to tell you that.
I woke up completely numb from my knee down. Could not even wiggle my toes. For months just making my toes work was hard. I seemed stuck for quite awhile and that was so hard.
Its been six months now and am noticing changes. In the last couple weeks i can with my heel on the floor pick my foot up almost even with the uninjured one. Albiet more crooked The outside of my foot and ankle wont work right yet. Still very weak. But my pt says its great and the dorsi is really getting strong. Almost back to normal! Ive been going ever since a couple weeks after surgery. I still go once or twice a week for the estem treatment. She is really great and has been very encouraging when i get down.
I would love to know what your using for ankle and lower leg strengthening!
Good luck and stay positve!

 
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