Foot Drop

Dear All,

Hope you are all having as good a day as possible. I've had strange burnings pains in my feet for about 4 months then about 4 weeks ago got fierce numbness and pain in right leg and although it is now just in my right foot and ankle it hasn't gone away. Rheumatology gave me a cancellation appointment and the diagnosis is foot drop. The nerves are not working which could be from my back or peripheral nerves in the leg. They will do an MRI scan on my back, hopefully next week and further tests to try and determine the cause. The day before this happened I saw my consultant and he was please with the blood test results, inflammatory levels almost within the normal range which is amazing, then the next day - Wham a different set of symptoms. Has anybody got any advice or experience of this? Apparently it can happen to anyone but also can be linked to inflammatory diseases. The pain is quite bad and comes in waves and wakes me at night so have been prescribed Gabapentin which will hopefully help. I'm still working and driving, although got a lift to the hospital today. Driving is very uncomfortable, I have an automatic car but as it's the right/accelerator/brake foot that's not helping! Only going a few miles to work and back and will have to keep reviewing if it's safe to do so. No certainty about the outcome but at least it's got a name and is known about. Any advise gratefully received.

Thanks - Michele

23 Replies

  • Can sympathise with you as I get burning in my ankles and feet as well, I have RA and OA and take mtx,sulfazalasine and hydroxocoloquine and am waiting to go onto biologics. Mines is still not controlled but my bloods look normal as I'm seronegative, with doesn't mean anything if you've got RA you've got it negative or positive

  • I'm Seropositive and have OA in my right big toe, no real movement in the joint. I was on Enbrel until Feb this year. I was diagnosed in 2001 and had a very bad first year, then the miracle of Enbrel. I've had a Rituximab infusion now and that seems to be beneficial but the burning foot pain is something else again. Still on Steroids (30mg), Hydroxychloroquine and Salazopyrin. Biologicals have really helped me so I hope you get on the right one for you


  • Hi Michele

    Yes I had foot drop. We were having a barbecue one night and had friends round and I was sitting there with my legs crossed. I stood up and couldn't lift my right foot properly. It felt really strange, I thought I must have damaged a nerve with the way I was sitting.

    Anyway I saw a specialist and he did a scan but by then it had recovered and he discharged me.

    A couple of years later I had a slipped disc. Saw a different specialist who gave me an injection in my spine and as the pain had gone off, discharged me.

    A couple of years later I got the same pain in my back and sciatica down my right side. As the surgeon had told me previously that these usually recover in 6 weeks I left it and thought it would go away. Three months later it had gotten worse so I made appointment to see GP but before I saw them I woke up one morning and couldn't walk. Was subsequently rushed in for emergency lumbar spinal decompression surgery.

    Had amazing recovery and a month later was allmost back to normal. Then it happened again.

    Have had further surgery to prevent it getting worse and have spent a very painful year trying to regain enough strength in my legs and core to enable me to walk again.

    Don't want to worry you, I think my case is rather extreme and I have had about 6 discs go in total, but it shows the importance of getting it investigated fully at the start.

    That and building up core strength and leg strength BEFORE it all goes wrong. It is a lot harder afterwards, believe me.

    Good luck, and I hope yours has a different cause than mine. I wouldn't wish the last year on my worst enemy.


  • Hi Ade,

    Thanks, mine came on very suddenly too - I spoke to Rheumatology the next day and increased steroids to 30mg and got an cancellation appointment. It felt very strange for the first few days like I was walking on a balloon and quite numb around foot and lower leg. A lot of burning pain now which I think must be better than no feeling?? I've kept walking and it doesn't hurt any more when I do, just 30-40 mins slowly with my dog an arthritic 14 year old Labrador, we are a pair together but still enjoying life. At least I'm on the road of investigation but I am scared, losing the ability to walk or drive would be awful. Having said that I've had 2 flare ups on RA effecting my eyes. 4 days in hospital in Jan for steroid infusions, eye drops etc. That was more scary.

    I hope things improve for you

    All the very best


  • Walking on a balloon, I like that description. Yes, you have to lift your foot much higher to prevent your toes from catching on the ground leading to a classic gait associated with neurological damage.

    I would guess some sensation is better than none at all, but any strange tingling / pins and needles type pains are often a sign of nerve damage somewhere along the route. Total numbness is not good (and scary IME).

    One thing I have had stressed repeatedly (and I assume but don't know for sure it is the same for women as men), if you get any numbness or strange sensations in the 'saddle' area (around the groin ☺️), or any problems with the waterworks (like not being able to hold it in), phone an ambulance (don't go to your GP) and go straight to A & E.

    I hope yours recovers as quickly as my initial foot drop did, and you have no repeats.



  • Thanks for replying, I'm gathering that this may be another on-going thing to fight and live with. The really strange feeling of walking on a balloon lasted a few days but I'm definitely lifting my foot higher than usual and must have some nerve damage judging by the pains and odd sensations, but the areas that were numb have come back to almost full feeling so I'm taking that as a positive. The Rheumatologist seemed to think that being seen in 4 weeks was good, so I'll just have to hope for a quick MRI appointment and take it from there. I will do anything the physio's suggest to keep walking and driving. Thanks for the other advise, I'll remember that if it ever happens. Wishing you a good day and are as pain free as possible


  • Hi Michele

    Yours may not be anywhere near as bad as mine, I don't mean to worry you.

    I can still drive and am still living in hope with regards walking. Compared to where I was even 4 months ago the pain is also much better. Still hurts, but hey ho.

    Yours may not be the same cause, it could be many things.

    Have you had your B12 levels checked, for instance?

    Regaining sensation and movement is definitely a positive. I just hope that if you have mostly recovered by the time your scan comes around that they don't just discharge you and forget about it. I know it's all what ifs but if I can't help but wonder if there was any investigation work that could have warned me about the need for me to strengthen my back supporting muscles sooner, and possibly prevented (or at least delayed) painful and expensive surgery. Not to mention all the other difficulties it has caused.


  • Hi Ade,

    Yes my blood tests showed low B12 and slightly anaemic last November. Had my course of 6 x B12 injections and now on 3 monthly top ups plus have iron tablets now, underneath it all (the weird pains) I do feel quite well, which is bizarre. I'm trying not to panic until I have more facts/a proper diagnosis but I do I feel I should have pushed for a referral to Neurology at the start. I did keep phoning Rheumatology and at least got an appointment fairly quickly once the symptoms got worse. Sounds like you have been though a very painful process and my thoughts go out to you. Not sure if my fitness/muscle strength will be good enough. I have always walked, carried on with a Zumba class + used light hand weights intermittently. I will try to get back into 10 mins. or so every day or so as I do feel better when I do.

    All the very best to you, it's good to know I'm not alone with this new issue


  • Hi Michele

    I'm no expert on this by any stretch so don't want to misinform you, or alarm you, however I would suggest searching, either this site ( or your favourite search engine for 'active b12'. See if anything sounds familiar.


    I know you've seen a GP (?) about this and been given injections, I believe there can be stuff they may miss. It may be that the injections are the answer to that anyway, but in case you feel like digging...

    And neurological issues can be one way it manifests itself. I believe. But like I say, no expert.



  • Hi Michele,

    I have RA and Systemic Lupus. I take prednisone and hyrodrochlorquine plus naproxen.Funding has just come through for biologics.

    About 4 years ago ( when I could walk a lot better than now) I was upright one minute sprawled on the pavement the next. Very ungainly.

    Went to my GP who thought I had had a stroke so referred to the consultant. I had nerve conductor tests, was then reffered to a Neurologist at Guys. Who did a biopsy at ankle level. By this time I was walking with a strange gait. I as then diagnosed with neuropathy in my left leg and foot drop.

    I was then referred to Orthodotics who gave me a foot brace which slips in my shoe and goes up the back of my leg.While a bit uncomfortable it has helped a lot alongside the exercises I was given to do by the physio.

    While I still have no feeling in both legs from the knee down . They remain extremely sensitive.But my gait has improved .

    Like a few others on here the nights are the worse mine tends to be cramps and electric creepy feelings running up my legs.I cannot bear any weight on them so fold the covers back . I am used to them being cold. Antihistamines have helped with the crawling sensation, but I doubt they would do anything for the pain you are experiencing.

    It feels to me you need to be referred to other specialist's within the hospital to see what help is available for the foot drop.

    Perhaps your GP could help with pain relief.

    Best wishes Smithfield.

  • Hi Smithfield,

    Thanks for replying, I really sympathise with your symptoms, I have similar but feeling has come back to areas that were numb. I'm sure there must be nerve damage because of the strange pains and tingling, but how much and can it be repaired - Don't know yet. Hoping for an early MRI scan - Rheumatology said they would try to get me one this week and refer me to a Physio. The new drug Gabapentin seems to be helping with the pain but I didn't get much sleep last night. Drove myself to work though feeling more confident, the foot does do what I need it to but the pain is so distracting. Automatic car but it's the right foot that's playing up, 50/50 chance I suppose! So I'm on another road with a new thing to fight and live with. An eye unit check up on Thursday, they feel OK but there will be on-going monitoring as my Corneas are very thin. They did a small procedure in Feb to seal my tear-ducts, so the eye drops stay in the eye, I don't make any tears at all. I hope you have a good day and your symptoms improve. Very Best Wishes


  • Good luck with the eye test and the MRI scan.

    I am trying to remember what went first for me the MRI or the nerve conductor test.

    Whatever I hope the MRI gives some conclusive results to enable you to move on to treatment.

    Keep driving as long as you feel safe and confident to do so. I really miss having to give it up it takes a lot of your independence with it.

    Very best wishes


  • If the foot drop gets too bad or too much of a problem, get your GP to refer you for assessment of the kind of ankle splint they use with people with that kind of a problem with incomplete spinal cord injuries (KAFO splints?)

  • Dear Earthwitch,

    Thanks for replying, I'll keep that in mind. Still walking OK but not too far, Hopefully will get more info and diagnosis soon and see a Physio. I hope you are having a good day and as pain free as possible.

    Best Wishes


  • Have them check for C.I.D.P. As well, as they are similar symptoms

  • Hi, Thanks for replying, had a quick look about C.I.D.P., don't want to bombard my brain with too many symptoms! but I will ask about it at my nest appointment, hopefully that will be soon.

    I hope you are having a good day and are as pain-free as possible


  • Not saying that it is for one second (certainly wouldn't wish it on anyone), but with neuropathy and related diseases it's better not to rule anything out until your docs have done all their tests.

    Many of them can only be diagnosed after ruling others out, as there are few defined tests for them, so it's often a matter of your consultants deicision.

    Good lluck and I hope and I hope that they diagnose quick for you and you begin treatment soon

  • Have you been referred to a podiatrist as insoles should help. One of the first things, after being diagnosed with RA , is to be given the right insoles as the disease gives us fallen arches as well as distorted toes.

  • Hi Magglen,

    Thanks for replying.

    I saw the Rheumatology Podiatrist when I just had the tingling pains back in Feb but normal movement, and they found nothing wrong with the look of my feet or blood flow/circulation and just said hopefully it will go away on it's own.

    At least I am now on the road of investigation and hopefully treatment and improvement. I will ask about insoles etc. when I get the chance.

    I hope you are having a good day

    Best wishes


  • Hi Michele. I have foot drop as a result of sciatica. When I eventually got an MRI scan it evidenced that the nerve in my spine which controls my right foot had been severely damaged by a ruptured disc. I had an operation on my spine the next day but the consultant told me the nerves were beyond repair. I have lived with foot drop for around 9yrs. Yes it makes walking very tiring, affects my balance but I live a full and happy life. See a good physio for exercises to strengthen foot. Keep driving, enjoy life, xx

  • Thanks, I've got to have an MRI scan and that will hopefully give me the full facts. I'm doing my best to carry on as normal and the new pain killer seems to be helping. The main problem is not that the foot isn't doing what I want it to it's the pain that's distracting when driving. I drove to work today feeling OK, so short trips I will carry on but not 2 hours up the motorway for now. I'm glad you are living with the condition, that gives me hope. Have a lovely day

    Michele xx

  • Check out vitamin deficiencies, especially vitamin B's such as B1, B6 and B12,

    Google 'drop foot and vitamin deficiencies'

    Not saying this is the cause of your foot drop rawillbebeaten, but worth checking out as B12 Deficiency can be the cause of spinal problems which many don't know about.

    Also taking some vitamin D3 helps bones too. for safe, up to date doses.

  • Hello everyone,

    My name is Shreyas I am 27 years old from India. 10 weeks ago I had a major bike accident. My right hip was dislocated like 4-5 cm upwards from my body. That time one sciatic nerve was damaged which results my Foot drop. And also 6 Stitches on my heal of right leg.

    My right hip dislocation was healed externally by excellent doctors under 5 hours after the accident.

    There was slight deflection of the ball of my right hip so in 3 weeks doctors have succeeded to reduce the hip dislocation. Now my hip dislocation is Well Reduced.

    After that doctors have suggested me to start physiotherapy regularly and start seat in 90 degrees in chair anywhere. Also they have advice me to start walk with the help of Foot Brace (AFO) and walker with the 50% pressure of my body. After 15 days the followup report was good so doctors told me to start walking with 100% pressure of my body and stop using walker and start using Stick of 4 legs. In a Week I can able to walk perfectly with 100% pressure of my body sometimes without using stick as well. I have stared climbing the steps. Total 100 steps climbing.

    At starting of the condition figures of my right feet doesnt have any movement. But the sensations are all good (Normal).

    Currently I am going through physiotherapy from last 1 month almost with 7 types of exercises and the MST (Muscle Stimulation Therapy ). Flexibility of body is all good specially Knee Bending is normal I can able to bend my knee more than 90 degree. Even I have a slight ( 0.1% ) of movement of my feet from ankle to upwards.

    Now on 19th July 2016 there will be another doctors followup checkup. I am nerves now. Will I need to have go through NCT (Nerve Conduction Test). Do I need to use Toe-off brace to continue my daily routine.

    How much more time it will take to recover my fully. Will this damage is permanent. Is my nerve is damaged of compressed? ( My total foot sensations are normal starting from day 1 after accident ).

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