Drop foot: how long to wait till doing back surgery?

I have drop foot (paralysis of the dorsiflexor muscles) subsequent to a L5-S1 disk herniation. Back surgery is recommended - microdiskectomy and S1 nerve root decompression. A general approach is conservative measures first, but if that doesn’t work then resorting to surgery before waiting too long.

How long is too long? How many weeks from onset is reasonable to try conservative measures before doing surgery?

I am not an orthopedic surgeon nor a neurosurgeon.

This cite suggests that even with evidence of nerve compression, it is reasonable to try conservative measures for about a month. On the other hand, symptoms that may constitute a medical emergency include progressive weakness in the legs or bladder/bowel incontinence. Patients with these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention (i.e. for likely immediate surgical relief).

Good luck.