Don’t Drag Your Feet: Get Help for Foot Drop
Imagine going from running a marathon to hardly being able to walk without tripping and falling. That was the experience of runner Beth Deloria when a spinal injury and surgery caused her to develop foot drop. Fortunately, drop foot does not have to consign you to a life of stumbling and limited activity. Treatments and aids are available that help you regain normal movement. They allowed Deloria to continue running and inspiring others to do the same.
What is Foot Drop?
This condition means that you are unable to raise the front of your foot when you walk. When you lift your leg for a step, the forefoot drops down and drags along the ground, and when you place your heel back down, the front of the foot hits the ground with a slap. To compensate, you will probably adjust your gait by lifting your knee higher (stepping gait) or by swinging your leg out to the side a bit to keep your toes from scraping the floor. An alteration in your normal gait can set you up for other problems in your legs and lower back – a domino effect.
Underlying Causes of Drop Foot
Among the reasons this condition occurs are nerve damage, weakened muscles, and brain or spinal problems. The peroneal nerve, part of the sciatic which runs from behind the knee to the shin, lies near the surface and is easily damaged or compressed. This can happen with sports injuries, knee replacement surgery, diabetes or something as simple as constantly crossing your legs and putting pressure on the nerve. Sometimes this brings pain, tingling or a numb feeling in the foot and leg.
Muscle weakness or atrophy can also make you unable to raise your foot. Diseases such as polio, muscular dystrophy, and Lou Gehrig’s disease cause the muscles to become weak and deteriorate. A stroke or brain disorder like multiple sclerosis can also cause problems with your nervous system, as can spinal problems like herniated or compressed disks.
Treatments Can Help You Walk Normally Again
If you notice your toes dragging on the ground, be sure to seek help right away. The earlier the specialists at Aadvanced Foot Care Associates can diagnose the problem, the better the chance for a good outcome. The treatment varies according to what is causing your foot to drag or drop. You may be able to wear a lightweight brace or custom orthotics to support the leg and foot. Physical therapy may be prescribed to retrain your muscles and nerves and regain function. Some people have had good results with nerve stimulation in the foot. Surgery is a final option, either to repair nerve or muscle damage or transfer the movement to another tendon. If the underlying cause is not treatable, surgery may be used to fuse bones together and prevent the foot from dropping.
Don’t Delay Getting Treatment
As with any condition, catching foot drop early can mean the difference between the successful use of simpler treatments and needing to resort to more serious ones. Contact Aadvanced Foot Care Associates by calling our offices in Rego Park, NY at (718) 896-4433, in Plainview at (516) 822-9595, and in Flushing at (718) 969-2266, or ask for an appointment on our contact page. Let us put our 100 years of foot care know how to work for you!
Photo credit: marin via freedigitalphotos.net