Medical Specialty >> Neurology

Doctors Lounge - Neurology Answers

Back to Neurology Answers List

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Doctors Lounge ( does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her physician. Please read our 'Terms and Conditions of Use' carefully before using this site.

Date of last update: 10/04/2017.

Forum Name: Neurology Topics

Question: foot drop - nerve roots damage or ALS?

 vivi - Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:25 am


My husband, 52, developped foot drop on the right leg about a year ago and since then he's been limping. He was limping worse and worse till he's got just recently that brace which holds his foot together and helps him in walking. His gait got much better with this help. But his right thighs are still week. On the left leg everything seems fine except he can't stand on his toes. He also had leg crumps, started 4-5 years ago, maybe even longer, especially at night times the crumps were quite bad. Just recently he went to an acupunture clinic, and after a few weeks of treatment most of the pain has gone from the leg and the crumps have gone completely. He has no problems with bowel, or any other part of the body. After a year went by, he was finally referred to a neurologist, who saw him last week and done some tests, but couldn't give as yet a diagnosis. He said it could be either a root nerve damage, or ALS. My husband has to go back in 3 month time for another test.

He had MRI, (but was only looked at at this stage by a reumatologist as where we live no neurologist are available.) He couldn't find anything on the MRI. The neurologist did not yet seen it, but it will be sent to him hopefully shortly.
I read that nerve damage could be also form bad posture and habitual leg crossing. And indeed, till now he did sit all the time and for long period of time with legs crossed.

For the last 2-3 month, he seems to be about the same, except that some muscles in the right leg are weak. We tried to do some exercise, and he has no problem to lift his leg upwards, but to lift to the side is very hard. I am hoping it is because he hasn't used much his right leg over a year. With the left leg no problem at all except standing on the toes. I hope with exercises every day, like pilates & swimming and no more leg crossing he will get better so I could rule out ALS.

Does these symptoms sound like ALS?

Many thanks for help and advice!!!!
 John Kenyon, CNA - Thu Apr 30, 2009 10:46 pm

User avatar Hello --

While it is possible this could be due to ALS, this seems somewhat backward in terms of presentation and progression (or lack of progression) of symptoms. I am doubtful it is ALS. I'm also fairly doubtful it is neve root damage, although this also is possible. I would think MS and idiopathic peripheral neuropathy would also need to be ruled out.

What part of your husband was subjected to MRI study? If brain, then MS could probably be ruled out via that route. Have there been done also EMG and nerve conduction studies done? There are a number of possible causes for this, and it would seem your husband's doctors have gone to the worst-case scenarios first, even though the presentation doesn't seem all that consistent with ALS in particular.

Hopefully this is helpful to you. Good luck to you both, and please let us know what you learn and keep us updated.

| Check a doctor's response to similar questions

Are you a Doctor, Pharmacist, PA or a Nurse?

Join the Doctors Lounge online medical community

  • Editorial activities: Publish, peer review, edit online articles.

  • Ask a Doctor Teams: Respond to patient questions and discuss challenging presentations with other members.

Doctors Lounge Membership Application

Tools & Services: Follow DoctorsLounge on Twitter Follow us on Twitter | RSS News | Newsletter | Contact us