When a physical ailment is forcing you to walk in an awkward manner, it can be a source of self-consciousness and negatively affect your self-esteem. If the front part of your foot doesn’t lift naturally when you step, it can drastically affect your gait. This brings unwanted attention and might make you feel uncomfortable. It could also lead to instability as you walk. If you have been wondering why this happens and what can be done about it, Parker Foot & Ankle is here to help you understand more about foot drop.
An Introduction to Foot Drop
If you experience difficulty lifting the front part of your foot but do not understand why, you likely have the medical condition known as foot drop or drop foot. This is not a disease in and of itself; rather, it is a sign of a neurological, muscular, or anatomical problem. You will likely have noticed that your foot, especially in the toe area, drags on the ground when you walk. This condition is not necessarily permanent, depending on the root cause, and even if it is, there are methods for helping support the affected foot.
Where It Originates
There are a variety of causes for this medical condition. Inherited genetic conditions, such as muscular dystrophy or spinal muscular atrophy, might explain your drooping foot. Motor neuron disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is a degenerative condition affecting motor functions and could contribute to the onset of drop foot. Nerve damage that occurred during hip or knee replacement surgery, or as a complication of diabetes, may also lead to this ailment.
Diagnosing the Condition
Diagnosing drop foot is fairly straightforward, but the true value lies in understanding what is causing this ailment. Imaging tests can be used to look at internal structure issues. Nerve conduction tests can be used to identify where the affected nerve is damaged. Sometimes electromyography, which entails electrodes being inserted into muscle fibers to record electrical activity within the muscle, is a valuable method to determine where the issue is occurring internally. These tests will help determine what kind of treatment options are available and which ones might work best.
Treatment for the condition depends upon the root cause. If the nerve issue can be resolved, for example, then foot drop will improve or disappear completely. If the case is permanent, then physical therapy becomes an option. By strengthening the leg muscles and your range of motion in the ankle and knee, you can improve gait issues that happen with drop foot. Stretching can help prevent stiffness from developing in the heel, so this is certainly recommended. Stimulation of the nerve that controls your ability to lift your foot may improve the condition. There are also surgical options for either new or existing cases of this ailment.
Braces and splints are options for those who suffer from foot drop. These devices help by holding your foot in a normal position. When using braces or splints, it is important to keep in mind that they will help with the symptoms, especially an awkward gait, but will not actually cure the drop foot.
When living with this condition, there are some measures you can take at home to help make things easier for you. Clear, clutter-free floors will help you move around without catching your foot on anything. Throw rugs should be avoided and electrical cords kept away from walkways.
Help Is On the Way
If you are living with foot drop and want to find out what kind of options you have, Parker Foot & Ankle in Houston, TX, is here to help. Dr. Robert Parker will diagnosis your condition and develop a treatment plan that works for you. Call our office at (281) 497-2850 and schedule an appointment today!