Foot drop is a gait abnormality in which the dropping of the forefoot happens due to weakness, irritation or damage to the common fibular nerve including the sciatic nerve, or paralysis of the muscles in the anterior portion of the lower leg. It is usually a symptom of a greater problem, not a disease in itself.
What is foot drop and what causes it?
The condition is caused by weakness or paralysis of the muscles involved in lifting the front part of the foot. The underlying causes of foot drop are varied and may include nerve injury. The most common cause of foot drop is compression of a nerve in your leg that controls the muscles involved in lifting the foot.
What are the symptoms of foot drop?
The most common symptom of foot drop, high steppage gait, is often characterised by raising the thigh up in an exaggerated fashion while walking, as if climbing the stairs. High steppage gait is associated with one of the following:
- Dragging of the foot and toes.
- Scraping of the toes across the ground.
Can you fix foot drop?
Surgery may be recommended to try to repair or decompress a damaged nerve. In cases where foot drop is permanent, surgery to fuse the foot and ankle joint or to transfer tendons from stronger muscles may help improve gait and stability.
How do you treat foot drop?
Specific treatment for this condition may include:
- Braces or splints. A brace on your ankle and foot or splint that fits into your shoe can help hold your foot in a normal position. Foot Drop braces are designed to provide support for people with the condition or the inability to lift their drop foot up due to paralysis of the anterior leg muscle group.
- Physical therapy.
- Nerve stimulation.
How do you test for foot drop?
It is usually diagnosed during a physical exam. Your Podiatrist will want to watch you walk and may check a number of your leg muscles for weakness. He or she may also check for numbness on your shin and on the top of your foot and toes.
Podiatrists at The Foot and Ankle Clinic have vast experience in diagnosing and treating Foot Drop and typically this treatment is very successful but involves a multifactorial approach. We also prescribe and supply a wide range of treatment aids to assist with the rehabilitation and prevention of Foot Drop.
At the Foot and Ankle Clinic our highly qualified team of Podiatrists are all members of the Australian Podiatry Association and offer a combined 50 years’ experience. They are trained to diagnose and effectively treat Foot Drop via a range of treatments.
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