Drop Foot or occasionally called Foot Drop is a condition where the individual has difficulty lifting the front part of the foot causing the toes to drag while walking. Either one or both feet can be affected at the same time and can strike at any age.
Drop foot is caused by a weakness or paralysis of the muscles that lift the foot. There are many different causes for this condition and treatments will vary. Foot drop is a symptom of an underlying problem, and not a disease. The condition can be temporary or Permanent.
Drop Foot can be caused by Nerve injury, Muscle disorder, Spinal disorder or Brain disorder. The peroneal nerve is a branch of the sciatic nerve that wraps from the back of knee to the front of the shin, and because it sits very close to the surface, it may be easily damaged. Injury to the peroneal nerve may also be associated with pain or numbness along the shin or the top of the foot. The peroneal nerve can be damaged or compressed through sports injuries, hip or knee replacement surgery, childbirth, diabetes, sitting crossed legged or in a squatting position for long periods of time, or after a large amount of weight loss.
Muscle disorders as in Muscular Dystrophy, Polio and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) will weaken the muscles and may cause drop foot. Injury to the nerve roots in the spine may also cause foot drop.
Brain or Spinal disorders such as Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy and Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease can contribute to foot drop.
- Light-weight braces – to help raise the foot after toe off to reduce tripping, are the most common treatment – such as
- Dictus Device
- Physical therapy/Massage therapy
- AFO – Ankle Foot Orthosis – functions by limiting the speed at which the foot plantar flexes (drops) during loading response (foot slap) and prevents the foot from dropping during the swing phase of gait (drop foot), which prevents the toe of the foot from coming in contact with the floor and decreases the risk of stumbling.
- Surgery – to repair a damaged nerve or in cases where foot drop is permanent, surgery to fuse the foot and ankle joint or to transfer tendons from stronger muscles may help improve gait and stability.