Foot Drop :A type of condition that can impact a persons mobility631
Foot drop, sometimes referred to as drop foot, is the inability to elevate the front of the foot. When you walk, the front of your foot may drag on the ground if you have a foot drop.
Foot drop is not an illness. Instead, it is a symptom of a deeper anatomical, muscular, or neurological issue.
Foot drop might be permanent but it can also be transient. If you have foot drop, you might need to wear an ankle and foot brace to support and stabilize the foot.
Foot drop is a result of the muscles that elevate the front of the foot being weak or paralyzed. Possible causes of foot drop include:
Nerve damage. Compression of a nerve in the leg that regulates the muscles involved in raising the foot is the most frequent cause of foot drop. The peroneal nerve is the name of this nerve. An extreme knee injury may cause the nerve to get crushed. Moreover, foot drop may result from damage sustained after hip or knee replacement surgery.
Foot drop can also result from a spinal "pinched nerve" damage to a nerve root. Diabetes increases a person's risk for nerve problems, which are linked to foot drop.
Nerve or muscle problems. Foot drop may be influenced by a hereditary condition that causes gradual muscular weakening. The same is true for other neurologic conditions including Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and polio.
diseases of the spinal cord and brain. Foot drop can be brought on by conditions that affect the spinal cord or brain, such as ALS, MS, or multiple sclerosis.
Damage to a nerve that travels down your leg and regulates the muscles that elevate your foot is the most frequent cause of foot drop.
This may be brought on by:
- Sports accidents
- Crossing your legs
- Bending or crouching for extended periods of time
- Peripheral neuropathy brought on by diabetes
- Hip or knee replacement surgery, and not moving for an extended length of time (for instance, when you are in the hospital).
Foot drop can occasionally be treated and improved on its own, but it can sometimes be permanent.
Among the less frequent causes of foot drop are:
- Damage to the brain or spinal cord is caused by genetic disorders such Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, spinal muscular atrophy, muscular dystrophy, and motor neurone disease.
- Stroke, cerebral palsy, Parkinson's disease, or multiple sclerosis-related spinal cord injury
How to check if you have Foot Drop?
See your doctor if you notice that your toes drag on the ground while you walk.
The muscles that raise the foot are under the peroneal nerve's control. On the side of the knee closest to the hand, this nerve travels close to the skin's surface. Actions that put pressure on this nerve might make you more likely to drop your foot. Examples comprise:
Crossed legs. The peroneal nerve on the highest leg can get compressed in people who often cross their legs.
Extended kneeling. Foot drops can happen during jobs that require extended stooping or kneeling, such as picking strawberries or laying tile.
Putting on a leg cast. The peroneal nerve can be compressed using plaster casts that cover the ankle and stop just below the knee.
Foot drop makes it challenging to elevate the front portion of the foot, which may cause it to drag while you walk. A person with a foot drop may lift their leg higher than usual when walking, as if they were ascending steps, to help the foot clear the floor. Steppage gait is a particular style of walking that can result in the foot slapping down on the ground with each stride. The flesh on the top of the foot and the toes might occasionally feel numb.
Foot drop can happen to one or both feet, depending on the reason.
The reason for foot drop affects the course of treatment. If the underlying reason is effectively addressed, foot drop may become better or perhaps go away. Foot drops may become permanent if the underlying reason is not addressed.
Possible therapies for foot drop include:
Splints or braces. Your foot can be kept in a normal position with the use of a splint that fits inside your shoe or an ankle and foot brace.
Physical treatment. Exercise can help you build up your leg muscles and keep your knee and ankle joints mobile. These exercises may help with foot drop-related gait issues. Exercises that stretch the muscles are crucial to preventing stiffness in the calf and heel.
Stimulating the nerves. Foot drop can sometimes be improved by activating the nerve that elevates the foot.
Surgery. Depending on the reason and the age of your foot drop, nerve surgery may be beneficial. If the foot drop has persisted for a while, your doctor may advise surgery to enhance function by moving a functioning tendon to another area of the foot.
Foot drops can increase your chance of tripping and falling, so take these safety measures into consideration when you are cleaning your home:
- Maintain clutter to a minimum on all floors.
- Take care not to throw rugs.
- Cables should be moved out of the way of walkways.
- Ensure that hallways and stairs are well-lit.
- On the top and bottom steps of staircases, use fluorescent tape.
Depending on what's causing it and how long you have had it, foot drop can be addressed in different ways.
It may occasionally get better on its own.
Treatments for foot drops frequently used are:
- Physiotherapy helps lengthen or strengthen your foot and leg muscles.
- Braces, splints, or shoe inserts to assist to keep the foot in place
- An electrical nerve stimulation device is implanted in your body, especially if you have multiple sclerosis or have had a stroke.
- You may have surgery to fuse the ankle and foot joints, repair or graft the nerve, or both if you have a permanent loss of mobility as a result of foot drop.
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Page last reviewed: Mar 16, 2023
Next review due: Mar 16, 2025