Foot Drop (or drop foot) is a nerve injury that displays the inability to lift the front part of the foot, resulting in the toes dragging along the ground. People who have foot drop may tend to lift their knee higher or swing their leg in a wide arc in order to avoid dragging the toes. Numbness on the top of the foot or toes, weakness, pain, and general loss of function of the foot are typical symptoms of foot drop.
Foot drop is caused by weakness or paralysis of the muscles involved in lifting the top part of the foot which may be due to nerve injury, muscle disorders, or brain/spinal cord disorders. With a nerve injury the peroneal nerve (which wraps from the back of the knee to the front of the shin) is the most commonly damaged typically from sports injuries, hip or knee replacement surgery, or even diabetes. Muscle disorders usually include muscular dystrophy or polio which involves the muscles progressively weakening. Neurological conditions that affect the brain or spinal cord such as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease or stroke can impact nerves that cause drop foot. Risk factors include anything that compresses the peroneal nerve such as crossing your legs, prolonged kneeling/squatting, or wearing a leg cast that cover the ankle to just below the knee exerting pressure on the nerve.
Depending on the underlying cause and the severity of the injury or disorder, it is possible to improve or correct foot drop. In some cases surgery may be the best option, but nonsurgical treatments can be just as helpful. Nonsurgical treatments include braces or splints and physical therapy. Light weight braces or splints help support the leg and holds your foot in a normal position. Physical therapy can help strengthen the leg muscles and maintain range of motion improving gait issues. A physical therapist can also implement nerve stimulation using an electronic unit called NMES (neuromuscular electrical stimulation) to activate the nerves used for walking. See your local physical therapist for recommendations on the best way for you to improve drop foot. We treat drop foot in the Clermont 34711 area.