25th Oct 2009

Understanding Drop Foot

Foot Drop

Foot drop (also known as drop foot) refers to a disorder involving a person’s ankle and foot muscles. A person with foot drop has limited control over the movement of the affected foot. This lack of control over the muscles in the ankle and foot results in an altered gait. Usually a person with foot drop will walk with an exaggerated high step, allowing the affected foot to slap down on the ground. This is often referred to as Footdrop Gait.

Causes of Drop Foot

Drop foot itself is not a disease but rather a symptom of one of many possible underlying problems or diseases. The loss of control in a person’s foot and ankle resulting in foot drop is often caused by an injury to the person’s peroneal nerve, which runs along the outside of a person’s leg between the bottom of the knee down through the foot to the toes. The peroneal nerve can be damaged by fractures to the leg or from other injuries sustained to the sciatic nerve, the main nerve in the leg. More Drop Foot Info

Peroneal Nerve Damage

The most common cause of foot drop is a herniated lumbar disc near the bottom of the spine. A herniated lumbar disc affects the sciatic nerve and often causes a person to lose some amount of control over the ankle and foot.

Herniated Lumbar Disc Affects Sciatic Nerve

Genetic diseases such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Multiple Sclerosis (MS), or Parkinsons Disease can also debilitate the sciatic nerve or the peroneal nerve and reduce the ability of the affected person to control his foot and ankle muscles.

Rehabilitation and Treatment

Rehabilitative therapy for foot drop varies depending upon the root cause of the condition in a particular person. Proper diagnosis of the root cause is obviously essential in determining a treatment program to overcome the problem. For cases that involve injury, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or EMG (electromyogram) can be used to understand the core problem. Stabilization of a person’s foot can be done by fitting a patient with an Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO) or a drop foot brace. Surgery is sometimes used to repair whatever damage has been done to the nerves.

Drop Foot Braces

Drop Foot Brace