- Posted on: May 15 2020
What is Foot Drop?
Foot drop occurs when you have difficulty lifting the front part of your foot. This can often lead to your foot being dragged when you walk, causing difficulty in getting around. Your knee and hip might try to compensate by lifting your leg higher, so it doesn’t drag underneath you. Foot drop isn’t an illness in itself but a sign of an underlying neurological, anatomical, or muscular problem. It may not be permanent if treated early, so it is best to contact your doctor if you find you have difficulty lifting your feet or walking around.
What causes Foot Drop?
The most common cause of foot drop is damage to the peroneal nerve. This nerve tells the foot to lift up. When there is damage to the peroneal nerve, or damage to a part of the body that signals that nerve, the frontal part of the foot doesn’t get the signal to lift up. One main cause of damage to the peroneal nerve is hip or knee replacement surgery. Additionally, a pinched nerve in the back, or having diabetes can lead to nerve damage causing foot drop. On the other hand, muscular disorders such as muscular dystrophy, Charcot-Marie-Tooth, or polio can cause muscle weakness leading to the inability to lift the foot. Furthermore, diseases of the brain and spinal cord, for example, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis, or a stroke can also lead to foot drop.
The peroneal nerve lays close to the surface of the body, so it can be easily compressed by daily activities. If you often sit with your legs crossed, work in an occupation that demands prolong kneeling or squatting, or need a cast around your leg, can cause the peroneal nerve to be compressed. Interestingly, foot drop is 2.8 times more likely to be found in men than women and more commonly affects one foot rather than both. For more information and statistics on what may cause foot drop, visit MedScape.
What are the symptoms of Foot Drop?
As discussed before, foot drop can cause you to drag your foot in front of you when you walk. You might feel you have to lift your leg higher, resulting in slapping your foot down as you walk. This can be referred to as a steppage gait. There are various scans or nerve conduction studies that can be done by your doctor, so be sure to discuss it with your medical provider if you suspect any symptoms.
How to treat Foot Drop?
Some forms of foot drop may be treated, while others may be permanent. Your doctor can prescribe foot or ankle braces that will help your foot stay in its proper position. It is very important to continue exercising and stretching, as this might help correct your gait. If your foot drop is relatively new and depending on the cause, additional options can include nerve stimulation or possibly surgery to correct the foot drop. For more information click here.
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