What is a Foot Drop and What Treatments are Needed?

Your feet are one of the most important parts of your body. If your feet are struggling to move and function properly, you’ll probably have trouble with walking, running, and even body pains, among other issues. Drop foot or foot drop is a common, yet somewhat troublesome condition. But what is it? And how can you treat it?

What Is Foot Drop?

Foot drop is a condition that results in the inability to lift the front part of the foot. This condition may cause your toes to drag along the ground as you walk, and can cause you to struggle with other issues due to poor posture and adapted movements.

Many people who struggle with foot drop also struggle with back and neck pain. Some may suffer from joint pains, muscular issues, and even headaches due to tension. People who struggle with foot drop may also struggle to stay active, and are at an increased risk of injury as well.

What Causes Foot Drop?

Foot drop is caused by a variety of different ailments. Foot drop is usually a symptom of other disorders; some of these disorders may include:

Nerve injury

Most commonly, foot drop is caused by damage to a nerve called the peroneal nerve. The peroneal nerve is a branch of the sciatic nerve which wraps from the back of the knee to the front of the shin. This nerve may be damaged easily due to its location. Injuries to the peroneal nerve are most commonly combined with tingling and numbness on the top of the foot or along the shin. Many things can damage the nerve, from sports to childbirth and even diabetes.

Neurological/brain/spinal disorders

There are plenty of neurological, brain, and spinal disorders that can cause foot drop. Some of these include but aren’t limited to stroke, MS, cerebral palsy, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and others.

Muscle disorders

There are also plenty of muscle disorders that can cause a foot drop. Some disorders may include but aren’t limited to muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), and polio.

How Is Foot Drop Diagnosed?

There are a few different ways that your doctor may check for foot drop. Firstly, your doctor will monitor how you walk and will check your muscles for weakness. Your doctor may also check for numbness in your foot, toes, and shin. From there, your doctor may order some imaging tests.

The most common imaging tests used to help try and diagnose foot drop are x-ray and MRI. However, an ultrasound or a CT scan may also be used. This is especially beneficial if the foot drop is being caused by a tumor, or even an overgrowth of bone which presses on the spinal canal.

Your doctor is likely to combine a few methods of testing together to determine if you have the condition. If it’s confirmed that you’re suffering from foot drop, your doctor will alienate the cause and help you treat both the foot drop and the condition causing it.

How Do You Treat Foot Drop?

There are a few ways that your foot drop can be treated. One exceptional method of treatment is using an afo brace. This brace is special and is used to help keep the foot and ankle in place. With a case of foot drop, this is rather helpful, as it keeps the foot from dropping and dragging while taking pressure off of it as well, giving it a better chance at healing.

While using an afo is a great and less invasive option, there are other treatment methods for foot drop. Shoe inserts, physical therapy, and ultimately surgery are also valid treatment options for foot drop. Finally, treating the condition that originally caused the foot drop to occur is crucial for treating your current case, and preventing any other cases in the future.

Closing Thoughts

Foot drop is a troublesome condition to live with. It makes getting around harder and may even prevent you from enjoying your more physical hobbies. Those with foot drop find even simple tasks, like getting the mail, harder to achieve. Because of this, treatment is crucial. Wearing a brace is a great, non-invasive way to treat foot drop. It’s wise to try non-invasive treatments before opting for surgery. Though in the end, the most important thing is that your foot drop be treated, no matter which method is used.

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