Drop Foot with L5 Nerve Damage

Hi! I'm new here and this is my first post, so please be gentle if I goof. I am desperate for interaction with folks knowledgeable about this topic. My surgeon [edit] isn't forthcoming about what happened. I have advanced disk degeneration and had cervical fusion done in 2016. I went back to the surgeon last fall, expecting to schedule the lumbar fusion I had been putting off. It turns out my thoracic spine had herniated to the danger zone and I was told I needed diskectomy and fusion done ASAP to avoid paralysis. To further complicte the situation, the herniations had calcification around then, which was being pushed into my spinal cord. In order to remove the herniations, an air saw was necessary to cut through the calcifications. All literally in my spinal cord. My regular surgeon couldn't do the surgery, but referred me to another surgeon in his group. I had the surgery 11/7/17. Looking back, I would never go back to this surgeon, as he was in way over his head and admitted to being "terrified" when he opened me up and saw the damage. The general surgeon that assisted told me my surgeon wanted to close me back up when he saw the damage, but he talked him out of it. Well, the surgery itself went well enough -- fused from T8-L1 with an 18" incision from the top of my left shoulder blade, down my side and ending at the hip. Obviously, I had to be positioned on my right side, where I stayed for the 8.5 hours the surgery took.  When I woke up, the foot drop on the left side was discovered. I was in the hospital for 10 days and received physical therapy for the foot drop. Physically and mentally, I was off-center (to say the least) after the surgery. It's the most painful procedure I've ever had, in a life of plenty of painful procedures. And recovering has been almost like recovering from a stroke. Add the plentiful narcotics I have been relying on because of the pain, and I am out of touch, to say the least. After basically being abandoned by my surgeon (I think he fears a lawsuit), I have been feeling my way with the foot drop. I did start physical therapy and have been doing the exercises prescribed. But it finally occurred to me the other day that nothing I have read re: foot drop addresses the fact that I can't walk at all without assistance for the weakness in my thigh, and I can't lift my left leg when laying in my right side. I know I sound thick, but I'm just now getting it that I have more nerve damage than just foot drop. It looks like the L5 nerve itself was damaged. I made an appointment to have a medical spine evaluation done but it's occupying my brain and I keep trying to find stuff on Google about what I have. Well, there isn't much. And what I do find pertains to lumbar surgery or direct injury to L5. Remember, my fusion ended at L1, so this damage is likely from positioning during the surgery -- or at least the foot drop is. I don't know if this is possible for the more extensive nerve damage. This is mainly why I am here.  I am also here to talk (and commiserate) about my journey with this. Any insight from you folks would be much appreciated. 



  • Hi. You are not alone in any of this and I can relate to not finding much on Dr. Google. While your procedures and symptoms are different than mine, I can relate to the pain and frustration. The foot drop is definitely related to the lower lumbar, but as to why that occurred you’re going to have to start down the journey of tests and therapy. Hopefully it will resolve in time. Keep on your doctor, and if he will not help, find a new one, fast. I’ve had many people tell me, “you’ll get better”, (I’m nearly 9 weeks post op) but the waiting and the mind games are difficult to deal with. Keep your head up and keep us posted. 

  • AJGormitAAJGormit Posts: 2,087
    edited 07/23/2019 - 1:08 PM

    hi kiwiklip

    Welcome to Veritas Health Forum

    so sorry to hear about this damage and hope you find this site as rewarding as i have.

    i have added two links below to help new members with information and these also contain the forum rules.  there is lots of material to research that will give you the power of knowledge.

    welcome to spine health

    all new members should take the system tutorial 

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