Do you have chronic foot drop? Are you wondering how to treat it?
If so, you’re not alone. Although there aren’t any official statistics to state how many people suffer from foot drop, it is recognized as a common symptom of MS, or Muscular Sclerosis. However, just because you have foot drop doesn’t mean you have MS, so it is important that you speak to your doctor about it. It is also important that you bring up any other symptoms that coincide with your foot drop.
In this article, we’ll go over some of the most common ways to treat foot drop, and what exactly the condition entails.
Read on for more information.
Foot drop is just like it sounds: when the foot drops. While this may seem like it may not be an issue, it, unfortunately, creates a problem when you cannot lift your foot up to walk straight. As a result, you may have trouble walking, or you may trip over your foot. This may make it difficult to continue walking as normal, and it may also make it difficult to wear the shoes you typically wear.
If you’ve noticed you suffer from chronic foot drop, it is important you have a doctor analyze your foot to help decide if it is the result of a disease or an injury. As we stated in the intro, the most common cause of foot drop is MS or multiple sclerosis, but you can also have other conditions and suffer from foot drop.
For some, foot drop is simply due to an injury to the nerves and muscles that help control the foot. As such, you may have a knee or spinal injury, and find you have issues walking or lifting your foot.
You may also have chronic foot drop after a hip replacement or because of diabetes.
Other causes of foot drop include a stroke, muscular dystrophy, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gherig’s disease).
There are several ways a doctor can treat foot drop. For some individuals, this may include treatment of the underlying disorder that has caused the foot drop, if possible. Other ways to treat it may include symptom management. Below are some of the ways your doctor may treat your chronic foot drop.
Ankle-foot orthotics, which are commonly referred to as AFOs, are one way to treat chronic foot drop. Each AFO is custom-fitted for the wearer and is a common non-surgical approach for helping treat the disorder.
These orthotics are designed to be worn with a shoe and force the foot into a flexed position. This allows the wearer to pick up their foot and be able to walk even with foot drop (though it will depend on how severe the foot drop is).
If your foot drop is not very severe, your doctor may prescribe custom made orthotics, which are not as dramatic as AFOs. Instead, they’re inserts that go into your shoe to keep your foot in the correct position.
For many, this solution is sufficient to help them with their mobility.
If your doctor has determined that your foot drop is not permanent and due to muscle weakness, you may be prescribed physical therapy and exercise. These will be exercises that you’ll perform both with a physical therapist and on your own. The exercises will help strengthen the muscles and retrain the nerves to help your foot eventually bend properly to allow you to walk as normal.
If the doctor finds that your chronic foot drop is related to nerve damage, or a nerve that is being compressed, they may order surgery. During this surgery, your doctor will endeavor to free the nerve so it is no longer pressed on by the surrounding muscles or tissue. For some people, this is sufficient to help cure their chronic foot drop.
If your foot drop is irreversible, your doctor may fuse your ankle bone to your foot bone so that your foot is permanently in a flexed position. This will help you gain stability, and make it easier to walk.
Another type of surgery, which is mildly less dramatic, includes taking a tendon from your leg muscle and surgically moving it to the muscle that should hold up the foot. This will allow some flexibility, but will also keep your foot in a flexed position.
Nerve stimulation is another, though less common, way to treat chronic foot drop. You’ll wear a nerve stimulator at all times, with the battery operated portion small enough to fit into your pocket. The electrode patches will be placed on your skin, one over the muscle that controls the foot and one over the nerves that send signals to the muscle.
The doctor will place a sensor in your shoe that will tell the electrodes to send nerve stimulation each time your heel moves from the ground.
Some people have this as a permanent device, as the doctor will implant it underneath the skin under general anesthesia.
If you think you may have chronic foot drop, contact us at Bliss Medicine for a consultation. We can help get to the root cause of your foot drop, as well as what course of action is best to treat it. Don’t hesitate, contact us today.