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'Foot drop' - Any Advice?

UniqueUsername Member Posts: 2 Listener
Hi -

I'm after some advice on 'foot drop' if I may?

I'm very aware that it is a minor condition compared to many discussed here, but it is currently causing me some problems and anxiety:

In 2014 I began to get shooting pains in my left leg and foot. I put it down to likely being a sporting injury, but it transpired to be a nerve problem, causing toe-drop in the three biggest toes on my left foot. 

I was diagnosed as having a ganglion compressing the nerve. It was drained and from that point onward I regained a bit of movement in the toes. However, weirdly, and possibly unrelated, from that point on I ended up with shooting pains on the outside of my lower leg. 

The consultant at the time didn't think much of it and discharged me. The pains continued to cause me issues however, particularly when operating the clutch on a manual car. I've since switched my own car to an automatic because of it, but I have to drive various vehicles for work.  I went back to a different consultant in early 2018 to see if anything could be done.

Since that time I have had several further ultrasounds, MRI scans, and nerve conduction studies. They cannot seem to determine what is wrong. 

Things deteriorated significantly in February this year and the pains became much more intense. They are also accompanied now by a total permanent foot drop of my left foot.

Looking online it seems that 'foot drop' has a variety of potential causes, and creates issues for many people in terms of walking awkwardly, tripping or falling. The pages do not however generally describe the other key symptom that I get; the pain. If I walk for more than a few moments (such as around a supermarket) I get significant pain and discomfort, sometimes to the point that I feel like I may vomit. 

In my most recent conversations the consultant suggested that the foot drop is likely to be permanent and that some sort of foot aid might assist ('orthotic'?). There have been no decent suggestions though regarding the main issue of the pain, aside from taking morphine-based painkillers. I'm very reluctant to do this however, as they are addictive and would mean that I cannot drive, and therefore cannot work, nor look after my young children. I live in a rural area.

I was a bit shocked to be told in quite a casual conversation that I may never again walk properly, or without pain... let alone run.

For people who live a fairly sedentary lifestyle I guess it may not be much of an issue. I've always been very active though (walking or usually running with my dogs for a couple of hours each day). I used to enjoy lots of forms of exercise.

My job is also very physically active, requiring an annual fitness test. I am concerned now that I may lose it. I also have two children under 7 years old who expect to be able to run around with their Dad. 

The whole thing has left me feeling quite worried and distressed. 

I am almost certainly not entitled to any form of help or support from the government. There doesn't appear to be much meaningful published information on the condition about to assist.

My questions are therefore as follows:

1) Does anybody else have the same problem that has developed in a similar way to my own? If so, did you ever discover the cause?

2) Does anyone else have a similar issue as regards pain inhibiting walking distances? If so, have you developed any decent solutions??

My thanks in advance. Apologies for the long post. 



  • chiarieds
    chiarieds Community Co-Production Group Posts: 12,270 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @UniqueUsername -  & welcome to the community, Rich. I'm sorry to read you have foot drop on your left side. I don't have the issues you have, but have had ganglions (one on wrist another on feet many years ago, but they tended to re-occur; thankfully no longer a problem).
    My later problems were evaluated by nerve conduction studies...had 2, one which said I had peripheral nerve damage, then another which said I didn't. I also had several MRIs, which didn't appear to find a problem. Like yourself, my specialists couldn't find what was wrong. Unfortunately this can happen.
    As you've said the causes of 'foot drop' are many, but don't usually cause pain.
    As far as pain-killers go, they can be effective for short-term pain. They are not addictive in a person taking them as prescribed by their Dr., but don't appear as effective for someone with longer lasting chronic pain.
    I did discover the cause of my problems as I have a little medical background.
    Whilst an orthotic might help, I would also consider getting back to your GP with your concerns. I think it considerably reasonable that you want to find out what is causing your foot drop. Ask your GP's opinion/ask for a 2nd referral. :)

  • Ross_Scope
    Ross_Scope Posts: 6,762

    Scope community team

    Hello @UniqueUsername ! I like your username, it is indeed unique :) 

    Welcome to the online community and thank you for joining.

    Sorry to hear about the issues you've been facing with foot drop. You say it's a minor condition compared to what's normally discussed here, but we don't see it that way. Everything has equal importance, because each individual is valued so highly and this community is here to support people like yourself, regardless of circumstance. 

    It's a shame that the consultants you've seen have generally been unable to provide you with a better outcome. I know you've said you've seen a couple already, but it may be worth going to your GP and asking to be referred to another new consultant, just in case they can help more than the others. Also, it might be worth doing some research online to find any medical professionals who specialise in this particular condition and might be able to see you.

    It must be hard to face the prospect of not being able to run around with your children, it's a saddening thought, but I'm sure you will find other ways of enjoying time with them and creating lifelong memories. 

    As far as your job goes, I'm not sure what it is you do as you've only mentioned a couple of details about what it entails, but I would recommend having a conversation with your employer, there might be reasonable adjustments that they may consider making, so that you find it easier to do your job and can carry on performing the duties. Alternatively there's the Access to Work scheme which is a grant designed to help disabled people make their jobs more accessible, you can read about that on the Scope website

    I'm certain that there will be other users who can provide their own experience and expertise in this particular area better than I can, I have moved your discussion to a category where it might get better responses for your specific condition.

    Again, welcome to the online community :)

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  • janer1967
    janer1967 Member Posts: 15,288 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @UniqueUsername Welcome to the community glad you have joined us, I cant really offer any advice other than I did have an employee who suffered with drop foot and we made reasonable adjustments to his role in order to make it easier for him to stay in work

    Such as reduced hours, more office based work rather than driving so much, taking breaks after set amount of time driving

    I am surprised that orthotics cant provide a suitable solution to help you with walking

    Hope you get it sorted
  • UniqueUsername
    UniqueUsername Member Posts: 2 Listener
    Thank you all for your helpful replies. I tried a few usernames and they all seemed taken, so this was the best I could come up with  :)

    I'm still awaiting a date for the orthotic, potentially that may help with the tripping, but it's not really my main issue as it is the pain I find more limiting. Potentially some of it is caused by other muscles or bits of me trying to compensate for the way I'm walking, so maybe it will improve things. A lot of it with the tingling and shooting pains feels a lot like it is nerve stuff though. 


    I shall as per the suggestions keep going with the doctors and consultants until they tell me to go away. I've nothing to lose after all. It may even be worth paying privately if I can establish (or anyone knows) of a specialist who has a particular skill in this area. 

    Thank you for your help. 

  • newborn
    newborn Member Posts: 741 Pioneering
    Sounds as if you have things in hand, as far as possible.  I do agree with you about being suspicious of pain killers in the circumstances too.  Let's  hope the orthotic improves things. 

    Don't  wait patiently! Push for a likely timescale,  and push more if it's too long. Also, look into privately getting that, as it shouldn't cost a fortune.

    One thing I noticed myself doing, and it isn't  uncommon, is that you fight the wrong thing. I'll explain: Ever so many people have a vague picture of a disabled person at the back of their minds.  "That's  not me, I'm not like that, I'm  not A Disabled Person! " their brain protests.  Especially  people like yourself, accustomed to running with your dogs  a couple of hours as well as working.   The "That's  not me!" manifests typically over Blue Badges.  People will walk in pain on crutches for years, but never dream of applying for a Blue Badge.  Duh....guilty.   

    Obey your body. Stop trying to do what you used to. Use  crutches,  use the orthotic. If your body wants you to behave like A Disabled  Person, then do as it tells you.  Again, Duh...years and years of pain from being too arrogant to listen to what my body told me.  And that's  perfectly typical, as so many people do the same.   

    It doesn't  apply to you,  but there's  another couple of groups of Duh candidates:  Ones  who won't  use  crutches "because  it makes me look old";  and  ones who are in agony walking, or can't  see or hear properly,  but don't  do anything about it because  "it's just what you have to put up with at my age".


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