How Can I Tell If I Have Foot Drop
The best way to know if you have foot drop is to see a nerve expert, like Dr. Echo. Your provider can conduct special tests to accurately diagnose your condition and rule out other disorders that may have overlapping symptoms. There are some warning signs to look for.
The main sign of foot drop is not being able to lift the front part of your foot. This causes significant trouble when you try to walk, and many people with foot drop try to lift their foot by using their knee, as if theyre marching or going up stairs.
Other warning signs of foot drop include:
- Dragging or scraping your toes on the ground when you walk
- Loss of sensation on the top of your foot
- Numbness in your lower leg
- Feeling weak in your leg, ankle, or foot
You may also notice a slapping gait. When this happens, your foot makes a slapping noise every time you step. If you have any of the signs of foot drop, schedule an appointment with Dr. Echo as soon as possible. The longer foot drop goes untreated, the more likely complications will arise.
Other Foot Slap Causes
Exposure to toxins, weak ankles, and anatomical abnormalities may also be to blame for your slap foot gait.
Having a stroke is another threat on multiple levels. When the flow of blood to the brain is cut off or restricted, it can cause damage to the nerves, including those needed to lift the foot. Plus, muscles will weaken during the recovery period when youre not able to move much.
Foot Drop Recovery: Understanding All Of Your Options
Saturday, September 30th, 2017
Throughout the process of rehabilitation, the effects of a stroke or debilitating injuries on the body become clearer over time. Whether youre a survivor yourself, a caregiver, or a family member attempting to help, it is important to be aware of the options out there. Decreased mobility can be especially trying for anyone already dealing with the effects of cerebral injuries, spinal damage, stroke, or other conditions that can lead to drop foot, commonly referred to as foot drop. Understanding your drop foot recovery options is essential for finding the most effective solution.
Challenges such as gait change, a modification in the way one walks, stress on joints, and other physical impediments are common, and it takes time to maneuver the proper road to recovery. Luckily this guide can offer some helpful tips to anyone seeking more freedom and help on the path to drop foot recovery.
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Common Treatments For Foot Drop
Treatment for foot drop depends on the underlying cause. It may involve physical therapy, occupational therapy, splinting and/or orthotic devices. Surgery may also be an option in some cases. With treatment, most people with foot drop can improve their symptoms and regain normal function.
The core treatment for foot drop is to treat the underlying cause. For example, peripheral neuropathy is often treated with medication, physical therapy and lifestyle changes. If foot drop is caused by muscular dystrophy, treatment may involve physical therapy and medications to slow the progression of the disease.
In some cases, surgery may be an option. Surgery can be used to release the muscles or tendons that are causing the foot drop. Occupational therapy can also be helpful. This therapy can teach you how to use splints or orthotic devices. These devices can help support your foot and ankle, making walking easier. Orthotic devices, such as ankle-foot orthoses , are devices that are worn around the leg and foot. They help to support the foot and keep it in the correct position.
Address The Underlying Problem If Possible
When a spinal nerve is compressed, a steroid injection near the nerve root in the spine can reduce inflammation that may be pressing on the nerve root. Doing so can fully or partially resolve foot drop. Or if a herniated disc is to blame, you may need surgery to repair damage and/or open space in the spine. Or when diabetes is wreaking havoc on your nervous system, getting blood sugar levels corrected can cure your floppy feet. Or getting a dislocated kneecap back in position can decompress the peroneal nerve.
You get the idea. Sometimes taking care of the causes of your foot pain is a relatively quick and effective remedy for temporary foot drop.
On the flip side, ignoring such problems can up the odds of permanent foot drop.
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Diagnosis And Treatment Options
If you are dragging your foot while walking and notice signs of foot drop, consult with a podiatrist who can diagnose the problem. A podiatrist will do a physical exam to check your foot and leg muscles, then evaluate the way you walk and take steps. In addition, they may order imaging tests such as an X-ray, ultrasound, or CT scan to identify the exact location of the problem. A nerve conduction test is often done to help determine what nerve is causing the problem.
Once a diagnosis is made, your podiatrist will recommend treatment options based on your personal condition. Some cases of drop foot are temporary while others may be permanent.
Treatment options for drop foot may include:
Foot drop can increase your risk for falls and tripping over objects throughout your home. You may need to modify your surroundings to make them safe and free from clutter that can pose a hazard while walking.
Are You Looking For A Foot Drop Specialist In Austin Tx
If you are looking for foot drop care, you should reach out to an experienced podiatrist. Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists can help. Our office provides a wide variety of advanced, effective treatment options for all kinds of painful conditions. Ready to schedule an appointment? Contact us online our Austin office at 512.328.8900.
Get Help Now
- 5000 Bee Caves Rd., Suite 202Austin, TX78746
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Deterrence And Patient Education
The involvement of the patient in every step of the decision-making process is vital for a successful outcome. Education to the patient and family members should be provided regarding pathology, etiology, diagnosis, and severity of the disease process. Handouts and specific instructions should include home exercise programs, skincare, and brace maintenance.
The clinician needs to be able to reach out to the orthotist in between medical visits for maintaining functional braces since all braces eventually wear out and need replacement and maintenance. Follow-up instructions should be provided so that any future adjustments in therapy, bracing, or further diagnostic testing can be monitored.
How Does Foot Drop Differ From Normal Walking
The cycle of action in normal walking is as follows:
- The foot moves forwards .
- The foot touches the ground. Usually the heel touches the ground first and then you move forwards on to the ball of the foot.
- The foot pushes off and leaves the ground again .
The normal foot can flex upwards . It can also invert or evert . In foot drop these movements (which occur mainly in heel contact and in the swing phase, are absent. Therefore:
- The swing phase may involve bending the leg at the knee to lift the foot away, rather like climbing stairs.
- The initial contact is not with the heel but with the whole of the foot which ‘slaps’ or plants on to the floor at once
- The ‘foot off’ motion does not function properly at all and a walking stick or cane may be needed to help lift the foot.
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Will My Drop Foot Ever Get Better
“Can foot drop be cured? Maybe. Are there things I can do to make things better? Absolutely.”
Your odds of foot nerve damage recovery will depend on how long ago the damage occurred as well as how far up the nerve path the damage occurred.
The longer you wait, the less likely efforts to repair the damage will be successful. And the higher up the nerve path the nerve is pinched or otherwise damaged, the longer the foot drop recovery time.
Generally speaking, the nerves involved in foot drop heal at a rate of roughly 1/4 per month. That means it will take much longer for a nerve damaged at the spinal level to recover versus damage to the peroneal nerve. And while that recovery process is underway, muscles can waste away , adding to the problem.
Online communities are riddled with some amazing foot drop recovery stories where people regain some function of their foot five years after tendon transfer surgery.
But its important to note that in many cases, regaining full or partial function of the foot can take years, and in some cases, foot drop simply cannot be fixed.
But that doesnt mean all hope is lost. There are many things you can do to help your case and keep foot drop from disrupting your life.
Signs Of Healing Foot Drop: What To Look For During The Recovery Process
Written by the editorial team at Flint Rehab
The inability to lift the front portion of the foot, also known as foot drop, can be caused by a variety of factors including a neurological injury like stroke or TBI. Fortunately, foot drop can be improved with a proper rehabilitation plan and a combination of other treatments.
While the recovery process can be challenging, it helps to look out for foot drop recovery signs to keep yourself motivated and work hard during rehabilitation.
This article will discuss some of the most common signs of healing foot drop and other ways to help boost recovery.
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What Causes Foot Drop
Foot drop is a symptom of an underlying problem, rather than a disease itself. It can be temporary or permanent. Causes of foot drop include:
- muscle disorders
Here’s some more detail on these causes:
Nerve injury. Most commonly, foot drop is caused by an injury to the peroneal nerve. The peroneal nerve is a branch of the sciatic nerve that wraps from the back of the knee to the front of the shin. Because it sits very close to the surface, it may be damaged easily.
An injury to the peroneal nerve may also be associated with pain or numbness along the shin or the top of the foot.
Some common ways the peroneal nerve is damaged or compressed include:
- sports injuries
Foot Drop Recovery After Neurological Injury
When an individual sustains a neurological injury like stroke or TBI, the communication between the brain and muscles may be disrupted. Fortunately, the brain is capable of healing and rewiring itself through a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity helps strengthen neural connections and create new ones. As the brain improves its ability to send signals to the affected muscles, movements like dorsiflexion can be restored. This is a great sign of recovery from foot drop.
The best way to activate neuroplasticity is by practicing high repetition of foot drop exercises. The more a movement is practiced, the more the brain will recognize that movement and strengthen its neural connections. When movement improves it can indicate a positive sign of recovery from foot drop.
Your therapist can provide you with various exercises that are safe and suitable for your condition. They may also provide you with sheets of exercises you can do at home in between therapy sessions or recommend another at-home therapy program to help you stay motivated during the recovery process.
Some individuals may also benefit from a combination of therapeutic exercises and other interventions such as an AFO brace, nerve stimulation, or surgery. Consult with your doctor to find the best treatment plan for you.
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Pearls And Other Issues
- Foot drop is an inability to lift the forefoot due to the weakness of the dorsiflexors.
- This may be a result of muscular-skeletal or nervous system pathology.
- A thorough evaluation should include medical history, physical examination and necessary imaging, and or electrodiagnostic studies.
- Depending upon the etiology, either surgical or non-surgical options are exercised.
- Prognosis depends upon the extent of nerve damage and the viability of the remaining muscles.
- A comprehensive approach, including referrals to appropriate services, will result in a better outcome.
- Careful analysis of the presenting history and physical examination is essential to arrive at the proper diagnosis.
- Management is contingent upon diagnosis and severity.
Foot Drop Symptoms & Treatment
Foot drop is a condition where you cant raise the front part of your foot normally. You may notice you often stub your toes on rugs or when going up stairs. Your foot may make a slapping noise when you walk because the toes touch the ground before the heel. Foot drop is commonly caused by problems with nerves in the spine or knee.
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Why Do People Get Foot Drop
Since foot drop is actually a symptom of an underlying problem affecting the peroneal nerve and muscles in your leg, its important to understand the root cause of your condition to understand why you have foot drop. Many different issues can affect the peroneal nerve, including:
- Injury or trauma to your knee
- Fracturing your fibula
- Long-term constriction of your lower leg
- Habitually crossing your legs
- Pressure on your knees
- Labor and childbirth
- Certain medical conditions
People who have a stroke or who are diagnosed with diabetes are also at higher risk of developing foot drop.
Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes
Foot drop is not a commonly seen condition. Patients may present to ERs, primary care settings, and other medical clinics. The primary provider may or may not be comfortable handling such a case but can recognize the clinical syndrome and direct care in the proper direction. Prompt diagnosis and identification are necessary since time is essential, especially if a patient requires surgery. the nurse practitioner or a primary care specialist needs to coordinate a multispecialty consultation team as soon as possible. A neurologist, PM& R physician, physical therapists, pharmacy, nursing, and orthotists are the main team players in care coordination. .
The following is an example of the care coordination plan.
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A Few Tips For Living With Foot Drop
There are a few things you can do to make tripping less of a threat in the comfort of your home, such as keeping your floors clear of clutter and throw rugs. Tucking electrical cords away from walkways can also limit your risk of them tripping you up. And good lighting in rooms and stairwells can make your life a bit easier by illuminating tripping hazards.
Rushing or multi-tasking while getting from point A to point B can also up your odds of taking a tumble. So slow down and dont try to do too much at once.
The digital age has also made support groups more readily available for those struggling with foot drop. Online blogs and forums are great resources for tips, inspiring stories, and updates on innovative foot drop aids that can help make this condition less of a burden.
Sciatica And Foot Drop Linkage
Damage farther up the peripheral nervous system may also be to blame. Recall that the peroneal nerve is a branch of the sciatic nerve? Pinching, severing or overstretching that nerve can also result in drop foot.
Some possible scenarios that may damage the sciatic nerve, causing sciatica and/or foot drop include:
- Spinal surgery, particularly in the L4/L5 area
- Parkinsons disease
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Foot Drop Symptoms Based On Specific Nerve Compression
Foot drop may cause weakness with numbness and/or pain in specific areas of the foot and leg based on the underlying compressed nerve. A few common examples are8:
- L5 radiculopathy or lumbosacral plexopathy. Foot drop from compression of the L5 nerve root or the group of nerves from the lumbar and sacral spine may cause:
- Weakness in moving the foot upward or downward at the ankle joint, turning the foot to the outer and/or inner side at the ankle, moving the leg away from the body at the hip, and moving the thigh inward from the hip joint
- Pain in the lower back that radiates to the leg
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- Common peroneal neuropathy. Foot drop from compression of the common peroneal nerve may cause:
- Weakness in lifting the ankle joint upward and while turning the foot to the outer side of the ankle
- Numbness in the front and side of the lower leg and top of the foot
- Sciatic neuropathy. Foot drop from the compression of the sciatic nerve may cause:
- Weakness in moving the ankle joint upward or downward, turning the foot to the outer and/or inner side at the ankle, and while bending the knee
- Pain and/or numbness in the back of the thigh, side of the leg, and upper part of the foot
- Deep peroneal neuropathy. Foot drop from compression of the deep peroneal nerve may cause:
- Weakness in lifting the ankle joint upward
- Numbness in the skin over the web between the first and second toes.
Weakness in most cases is felt more while attempting to lift the foot upward.
Signs Of Dropfoot Syndrome
The early symptoms of dropfoot syndrome are usually somewhat subtle and some time may pass before you realize that something more serious is going on. However, one of the earliest signs that will alert you to the possibility that you have this condition is an inability to flex your foot upwards when you previously had no trouble doing so.
You may also notice that you seem to trip and fall a bit more often than in the past. This can be a result of your gradual loss of control of the fine movement of your feet. You may also notice that you have some difficulty with using your foot in a dextrous way in the course of your daily routine while using the gas and brake pedals of your car, for example.
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