How long does foot drop last?

Discussions related to Sciatica and Leg Pain

How long does foot drop last?

Postby Peter B » Fri Jun 06, 2008 8:02 am

Hello everyone. I'm new to the forum, and just wanted to let everyone know reading your stories has brought me out of a very deep depression I was in after being diagnosed with a severe L5-S1 hernation. I have a couple questions if that's ok.

I have "foot drop" in my right foot, meaning my foot and big toe are numb, and I'm unable to walk on my right heel (I can't lift the ball of my foot off the ground). How long does that condition typically last? I have to see a specialist in a few days, and I'm not planning on going for surgery unless it's absolutely necessary, but I'm scared my foot will never be the same.

Second question: when doing the basic exercises, is it normal to feel pain in the buttock area? I can't progress to the stage 3 Cobra, and even the stage 2 causes quite a bit of discomfort.

Thanks for having me aboard. I look forward to reading this forum as I recover.
Peter B
Posts: 16777215
Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2008 4:12 pm

Postby TBone » Tue Jun 10, 2008 9:28 am

Hello Peter and welcome to the boards,

The basic consensus it seems is that if an exercise causes pain, not soreness, you should avoid it until your body is ready. I too had/have an L5 S1 herniation. The first few weeks were tough as I could not sit or stand up straight for a good 3 or 4 weeks and I had numbness and tingling in my foot. I still get some numbness in my right foot on occasion, but it is usually gone after I change positions.

I can't tell you how lucky you are to have found this forum! I started the program on May 1st of this year and I have experienced some tremendous results so far. I wish I had found the forum last summer when I first had an episode, but that's life.

Some of the things that I have found very helpful I have outlined below:
1. The deep breathing outlined in the book is very important. It helps me relax and aids in my stretching.

2. When I do stretch, I remember never to strain. The key is to "let" your body can't make it stretch any further than it is capable.

3. After many months of trying to find quick fixes and trying to return to sports and constantly re injuring myself, I finally accepted the injury. By accepted, I don't mean what doctor's mean when they tell you to "learn to live with it" or "manage your pain". This type of "advice" needs to be ignored or better yet laughed at. Don't ever let them convince you of this. You can overcome your injury, but it takes time and dedication. Accept that and you will get better.

4. Warm up is very important. Before I try anything physical (like roller blading), I make sure I am fully warmed up so I don't hurt myself during the activity.

5. Stress and anxiety will lead to pain. These things cannot be fully avoided, but you have to learn to chill out and laugh at the B.S. life throws your way sometimes. This is very hard for me because I am a perfectionist and an over achiever. However, I have learned to let things roll off my back more and I am happier for it.

6. This may seem to contradict point number 3, but after a while I had to stop "babying" my back. Obviously, this doesn't mean go out and play 2 hours of tennis or shovel loads of mulch for 3 hours. For me, it started with mowing the lawn. This gave me confidence to start doing other things like wrestling with my 5 year old. Then I tried to serve some tennis balls. Then, I graduated to hitting against an opponent for 15 minutes. You get the point. I think the key for me has been the stretching...especially the forward bend. This stretch puts your back in a very vulnerable position, but if you remember to just hang there and breathe deep and relax, your flexibility and then confidence both start to increase. In short, you have to overcome your fears without going too crazy. John Sarno's book has helped me, even though I disagree with some of his sentiments.

7. Finally, also a nugget from Sarno, is not to repress any anger. When things ticked me off in the past, I buried my anger because I thought other people didn't like it. I pretended that things and people didn't bother me when they really did. The short of it is that this repression can cause a syndrome called TMS...which can cause chronic pain. Sarno suggests that you deal with these emotions not matter how ugly or painful they may be. Let me tell you that it has really helped me to honestly face these thoughts instead of burying them.

I hope this helps and let me say once again that this site and Dean's exercises are the answer. You WILL get better.

Breathe deep,

Postby Peter B » Tue Jun 10, 2008 7:43 pm

Thanks for your reply Tbone, and all the great advice. After speaking with the surgeon, he's advising me to NOT have surgery unless there's further deterioration of my foot drop..I'm seeing some very small improvements over the past couple days, and continue doing the exercises and stretches that don't cause me pain. I've progressed to a couple pillows under my chest for the cobra stretch...bending forward is not on the agenda for now, but I'm confident it will be. I start formal physiotherapy in two days to try to regain some strength in my foot. I'm really looking forward to it.

Amazingly enough, I'm already getting pressure from my work to return on modified duties (I'm a police officer). I was told that "pain is not a factor" in whether I can return to work or other words, it doesn't matter if sweat is rolling down my back from sciatic pain, I better park myself in front of computer for 10 hours a day so they can get their money's worth out of me. Nice to see that after 20 years of dedicated service, they really don't give a crap about me or my health.

I will continue to maintain a positive attitude, and WILL get better...thanks again for the words of encouragement. This forum is a Godsend.

Peter B
Posts: 16777215
Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2008 4:12 pm

Postby TBone » Wed Jun 11, 2008 5:59 am

I went through some of that with my job. It took them about a month to respond when I told them that I was in great pain while sitting. The "ergonomic specialist" they brought in wouldn't listen to my concerns. Instead he just went through his 2 minute diatribe about posture and chair settings, ignored my questions and then left. Good times.

However, I am glad to report that after 3 months of lying down on the floor with my laptop in my lap, I am back to sitting...though I make sure I never sit for more than 15 minutes at a time without getting up to at least stretch. I have to give my bosses credit for allowing me to work on the floor...although all of my "friends" made sure to make jokes at my expense. It is really a stupid and thoughtless way to be if you believe in karma. Anyway, I just used it as motivation.

If you can't tell, I am more than a little bitter at the callous way most people treated me this winter and spring when I was most hurt. But, like I said before, I am not holding that stuff in anymore...back pain effects about 80% of the adult population at one time or another. When it is their turn, maybe then, those jerks will understand how deplorable their behavior was.

Anyway Peter, hang in there. You will get better. There are so many posting that you can read on this site for inspiration and motivation when you need it.

Take care,

Postby Peter B » Wed Jun 11, 2008 8:01 am

It's funny how the idea of back pain, particularly when it's caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve, just doesn't compute with some people. For those that have never experienced it, it seems the consensus is they think you're either exaggerating or faking it when you talk about the pain you're in. If you came to work with a big gaping wound on your leg or arm, they'd be sympathetic. But because the pain doesn't come with a visual clue, they just don't get it. I've tried to describe how it feels to other people, but until you experience it for yourself, it's hard to understand. My best analogy is to ask someone if they've ever had an exposed nerve on a tooth that they've accidentially bumped with a toothbrush. Then I tell them to imagine sticking a screwdriver on that same root and pushing as hard as they can for a 24 hour period.

Another day, and another step closer to being healed. I managed to lift the front of my foot about an 1/8 of an inch this morning! Tomorrow, I shoot for a 1/4"!
Peter B
Posts: 16777215
Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2008 4:12 pm

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