Foot drop is defined as a neurological disorder which causes difficulty in lifting the foot off the ground partially or completely. Usually, this inability to lift part or whole of the foot causes a person to drag the foot while walking.
The dropping of the foot may be caused due to varying factors such as weakness, irritation caused due to the common fibular nerve, or paralysis of the muscles in the lower portion of the leg or sometimes may also be caused by spinal cord .
This disease is thus characterized as the inability or impaired ability to raise the toes or foot from the ankle. The extent of muscle weakness or paralysis determines the extent and duration of the dysfunction.
The initial symptoms of foot drop include:
- The inability to raise the foot at the ankle
- The inability to point the toes upward.
- Unable to walk normally in heel-to-toe fashion
Additional symptoms May also include:
- Swinging hip motion.
- Limping in the foot.
- Tingling sensation, numbness and pain in the foot.
- Difficulty engaging in activities requiring the use of the front of the foot such as climbing stairs.
What Causes Foot Drop?
Since Foot drop is a symptom of an underlying problem, and not a disease itself, it may be caused due to:
This is the most common cause of foot drop. A nerve injury may be caused as a result of an accident or even a mishap caused during a surgery. Other factors that might contribute in causing a nerve injury could be:
- Injuries caused while playing sports
- An injury caused in the process of a hip or knee replacement surgery
- Spending long hours sitting cross-legged or squatting
- Excessive time spent in a leg cast
Brain or spinal disorders:
Other than nerve injuries what can lead to causing a foot drop can also be a brain or spinal disorder such as
- A stroke
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Cerebral palsy
The third and last factor contributing towards causing a foot drop can also be a muscle disorder. A muscle disorder such as muscular dystrophy or Myopathies may ultimately lead to weakening of the foot muscle.
A Foot drop is usually diagnosed by carrying out a physical examination. The doctor examines the walk and checks leg muscles for signs of weaknesses and numbness on the shin, foot and toes.
Other tests May include:
- CT scan,
- MRI and
- Nerve conduction tests
Treatment for foot drop largely depends on whatcauses the foot to drop. Depending on this cause the line of treatment is scheduled. If one is able to treat the cause, there may be a good and speedy recovery in the disease. If the cause can’t be treated, foot drop may be permanent.
Following Treatment also helps:
- Inserting braces or splints.
- Physical therapy and exercises that strengthen the leg muscles.
- Stimulation of the nerves.
- Surgery might also recommended depending on the case.