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Thread: Major complication - foot drop

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    San Francicsco Bay Area
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    Major complication - foot drop

    I had my fourth Scoliosis surgery in January at UC Davis in Sacramento with Dr. Rolando Roberto. It was a revision for Scoliosis flatback which had developed under my present fusions. I was fused from T3 to the Sacrum with pelvic fixation and new instrumentation placed from T10 down. It was done all from the posterior. I did tell the surgeon that if he needed to open me up in the front (anterior) as well that was fine with me, but he said the posterior approach was fine.

    Anyway, I suffered a major complication called "Foot Drop" or "Drop Foot." I've had many surgeries, but for the first time afterwards when they were poking my feet and asking if I could feel this or that, I had to reply that no, I could not feet parts of my left foot. The last three months have been a nightmare! My left foot is basically paralyzed and I can't walk on my own anymore. The nerve pain in my feet and leg is indescribable. I was told that the nerves had been "stretched" and that it would take a long time to recover and no promises. I live alone and I won't even go into how difficult it's been for me. I was in rehab for a month.

    I've had a complete spinal MRI and X rays, and no overt nerve cuts could be seen. Does anyone have any experience with Scoliosis surgery and foot drop? I read somewhere that it could be caused from a pedicle screw being placed into a nerve? Please, if anyone knows anything about what I should do, write in. My ability to ever walk on my own again is at stake.

    Thank you!
    1st surgery: Fused T1-L3 in 1987 with contoured Harrington Rods. Rods broke at top.
    2nd surgery: Re-done two weeks later; fused C7-L3. Left in chronic pain.
    3rd surgery: Hardware removal 1997, but still pain for 30 years.
    4th Surgery: Fused to the sacrum in 2016. Came out of surgery with left foot paralysis. (Drop Foot) Can't walk on my own.
    I'm blessed to have found my peace and reason to live not from a husband or kids (I have none) but from God and within myself.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Yacolt, WA
    Posts
    1,525
    So sorry about your foot drop. My only thoughts are Lyrica or nerve pain and a lower leg support to decrease the foot drop. You have probably tried this.

    Hope that it gets better with time. My heart goes out to you. If you ever just want a listener, send me a PM and I will give you my phone number.

    You are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Susan
    Adult Onset Degenerative Scoliosis @65, 25* T & 36* L w/ 11.2 cm coronal balance; T kyphosis 90*; Severe disc degen T & L stenosis

    2013: T3- S1 Fusion w/ ALIF L4-S1/XLIF L2-4, PSF T4-S1 in 2 surgeries
    2014: Hernia @ ALIF repaired; Emergency screw removal surgery for Spinal Cord Injury at T4,5 sec to PJK
    2015: Revision Broken Bil T & L rods and no fusion: 2 revision surgeries; hardware P. Acnes infection
    2016: Ant/Lat Lumbar diskectomy w/ 4 cages + BMP + harvested bone + prayer

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    illinois
    Posts
    758
    A friend of mine developed this after a small fusion. He could not get it helped until he went to Mayo clinic. They found the cause and fixed it. Keep looking.
    T10-pelvis fusion 12/08
    Fractured t-9 six days out of surgery
    C5,6,7 fusion 9/10
    PJK at t-9
    T2--T10 fusion 2/11
    Removal of left side t6-t10. 8/14
    C 4-5 fusion 11/14
    Right scapulectomy 6/15
    Right pectoralis major muscle transfer to scapula
    To replace the action of Serratus Anterior muscle 3/16

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Posts
    9
    Quote Originally Posted by susancook View Post
    So sorry about your foot drop. My only thoughts are Lyrica or nerve pain and a lower leg support to decrease the foot drop. You have probably tried this.

    Hope that it gets better with time. My heart goes out to you. If you ever just want a listener, send me a PM and I will give you my phone number.

    You are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Susan
    Susan is right, Lyrica, or any other med for neurogenic pain should be at the top of the list, so you can get some relief from the nerve pain.
    (Neurontin is an often used med for nerve pain.

    And if your foot drop continues to plague you, you should have them refer you to an orthotist who could make you
    an AFO brace. Also look into the Bioness device...it is an amazing little device which can give you back dorsiflexion to your foot/ankle.

    Until the time you get some relief, make sure you use mobility aids, cane, wheelchair, whatever it takes to keep you from falling.
    Falling is a major risk factor with foot drop, and with all the surgery you've had, falling is the one thing you don't need to happen.

    I have had foot drop for many years (not due to surgery, but MS.) Don't give up and let them tell you you have to live with it, explore the
    devices that are available to keep you mobile. I'm sorry you're having to deal with it, but things will get better when it is addressed properly.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Yacolt, WA
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    Quote Originally Posted by slipsliding View Post
    Susan is right, Lyrica, or any other med for neurogenic pain should be at the top of the list, so you can get some relief from the nerve pain.
    (Neurontin is an often used med for nerve pain.

    And if your foot drop continues to plague you, you should have them refer you to an orthotist who could make you
    an AFO brace. Also look into the Bioness device...it is an amazing little device which can give you back dorsiflexion to your foot/ankle.

    Until the time you get some relief, make sure you use mobility aids, cane, wheelchair, whatever it takes to keep you from falling.
    Falling is a major risk factor with foot drop, and with all the surgery you've had, falling is the one thing you don't need to happen.

    I have had foot drop for many years (not due to surgery, but MS.) Don't give up and let them tell you you have to live with it, explore the
    devices that are available to keep you mobile. I'm sorry you're having to deal with it, but things will get better when it is addressed properly.
    Great ideas! Both Neurontin and Lyrica can be sedating, so start out slowly.

    After you have had testing to see just which nerve(s) is/are affected, I believe that there are some nerve stimulating apparatus that you can use. Check that out with local PT.

    Keep the leg and ankle nimble with stretching exercises. Are you wearing a support to keep your ankle in anatomical alignment? If the foot is always plantar-flexed [dropped], then you might develop a contracture. Also pad your heel with sheepskin [you can buy these in many medical supply stores] and do not always have pressure on it when sitting or lying down as you might develop a pressure sore.

    Get outside!!! I hear your anger and frustration....I've been there and am still there! Your situation would be very frustrating to everyone and prob most everyone would be depressed, at least somewhat. Think about seeing your PCP about a screening for depression and maybe an antidepressant. Everything that has happened is NOT YOUR FAULT. Don't claim any of the problem and be proactive about helping yourself get out of the hole. Been there, done that but very slowly!

    HUGS, hugs, and another hug to another scoli survivor with postop challenges, Susan

    There was a woman from Bend, Oregon who had foot drop, I believe. Search the site.
    Last edited by susancook; 04-07-2016 at 05:14 PM.
    Adult Onset Degenerative Scoliosis @65, 25* T & 36* L w/ 11.2 cm coronal balance; T kyphosis 90*; Severe disc degen T & L stenosis

    2013: T3- S1 Fusion w/ ALIF L4-S1/XLIF L2-4, PSF T4-S1 in 2 surgeries
    2014: Hernia @ ALIF repaired; Emergency screw removal surgery for Spinal Cord Injury at T4,5 sec to PJK
    2015: Revision Broken Bil T & L rods and no fusion: 2 revision surgeries; hardware P. Acnes infection
    2016: Ant/Lat Lumbar diskectomy w/ 4 cages + BMP + harvested bone + prayer

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    reno,nevada
    Posts
    3,534
    Table

    I am SO sorry this happened.... it sounds really painful.

    Try to take it easy.....and stay hopeful...

    Thinking of you

    Ed
    49 yr old male, now 58, the new 53...
    Pre surgery curves C12,T70,L70
    ALIF/PLIF T2-Pelvis 01/29/08, 01/31/08 7" pelvic anchors BMP
    Dr Brett Menmuir St Marys Hospital Reno,Nevada

    Bending and twisting pics after full fusion
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/showt...on.&highlight=

    My x-rays
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...2&d=1228779214

    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...3&d=1228779258

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    San Francicsco Bay Area
    Posts
    127
    I just want to thank everyone for the kind replies. Yes, I've done everything that has been suggested to treat the Drop Foot. I have a good Swedish "leaf up" brace, a Physical therapist, two different walkers, (indoors and out) and am on Gabepentin and have a good pain management doctor...the only thing missing is why I have foot drop and what to do to fix it. I was told by my surgeon that my nerves had been "stretched" - either from the surgery or from being on the operating room table for thirteen hours. Has anyone ever heard anything similar? I am wondering if I need to see a spinal neurosurgeon to rule out a hardware problem. Ideas, anyone?
    1st surgery: Fused T1-L3 in 1987 with contoured Harrington Rods. Rods broke at top.
    2nd surgery: Re-done two weeks later; fused C7-L3. Left in chronic pain.
    3rd surgery: Hardware removal 1997, but still pain for 30 years.
    4th Surgery: Fused to the sacrum in 2016. Came out of surgery with left foot paralysis. (Drop Foot) Can't walk on my own.
    I'm blessed to have found my peace and reason to live not from a husband or kids (I have none) but from God and within myself.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    illinois
    Posts
    758
    You can try but sometimes they won't see you if you had surgery with in the year.It does take time for healing.
    T10-pelvis fusion 12/08
    Fractured t-9 six days out of surgery
    C5,6,7 fusion 9/10
    PJK at t-9
    T2--T10 fusion 2/11
    Removal of left side t6-t10. 8/14
    C 4-5 fusion 11/14
    Right scapulectomy 6/15
    Right pectoralis major muscle transfer to scapula
    To replace the action of Serratus Anterior muscle 3/16

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    San Francicsco Bay Area
    Posts
    127

    Still have paralyzed foot

    Hi Everyone:

    Just want to say Hi and to let everyone know that I am six months out from my fusion to the sacrum surgery and my left foot is still paralyzed. I wonder if I will ever be able to walk on my own again? My surgeon had said that my nerves had been "stretched" during surgery and he urged me to wait...for what, I don't know. Why didn't he do a CT scan immediately after surgery? They knew my foot was paralyzed when I woke up in ICU and couldn't feel anything. Why didn't he do it then? Instead, I had to order my own CT scan through my GP and then refer myself to UCSF, where I am now. I am under the care of a spinal neurosurgeon and his PA. He doesn't think it was my nerves being stretched at all. I am awaiting the results of the nerve conduction study and also a CT myleogram. I'm glad no one else here has any paralysis.
    1st surgery: Fused T1-L3 in 1987 with contoured Harrington Rods. Rods broke at top.
    2nd surgery: Re-done two weeks later; fused C7-L3. Left in chronic pain.
    3rd surgery: Hardware removal 1997, but still pain for 30 years.
    4th Surgery: Fused to the sacrum in 2016. Came out of surgery with left foot paralysis. (Drop Foot) Can't walk on my own.
    I'm blessed to have found my peace and reason to live not from a husband or kids (I have none) but from God and within myself.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    reno,nevada
    Posts
    3,534
    Anne, I hope that the good folks at UCSF can find out why this has happened.....

    Here is a link about foot drop and nerve transfer....

    http://nerve.wustl.edu/nd_transfers_foot.php

    http://nerve.wustl.edu/nd_transfer.php

    Ed
    49 yr old male, now 58, the new 53...
    Pre surgery curves C12,T70,L70
    ALIF/PLIF T2-Pelvis 01/29/08, 01/31/08 7" pelvic anchors BMP
    Dr Brett Menmuir St Marys Hospital Reno,Nevada

    Bending and twisting pics after full fusion
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/showt...on.&highlight=

    My x-rays
    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...2&d=1228779214

    http://www.scoliosis.org/forum/attac...3&d=1228779258

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