posted on March 19, 2010 12:55
Foot drop happens when you have nerve problems, or cannot move the ankles and toes in an upward motion. People that have drop foot symptoms must raise their leg higher when they walk to keep their foot from dragging along the ground.
Most of the time, drop foot symptoms result from certain types of nerve damage, but can also be a result of an anatomy that isn't normal, damage to the muscles, or several things at one time.
When long nerves in the body are damaged, foot drop can result. These nerves are peroneal nerves that allow the anterior part of the leg to move. When this never doesn't work correctly, it causes the foot to not be able to flex correctly, resulting in foot drop. It is characterized by a gait that is out of the ordinary.
People that have drop foot symptoms will have what is known as a steppage gait. This means that as the person walks, their foot slams down on the ground. Many people that suffer from this malady use a walk that is much like a tiptoe on the unaffected leg, lifting the thigh higher than normal, allowing the toe to drop. This is done so that the foot is brought up high enough to keep the toe from scraping the ground, and stops the slamming down of the foot. Other people might swing their leg outward so that they do not have to lift the thigh too much, and this can also be a symptom of foot drop.
Drop foot symptoms are usually seen when a patient is having a normal physical exam. A person that has drop foot will only have a hard time trying to walk on their heels. The peroneal nerve is the one that tells the muscles in the foot to lift it. A different nerve is responsible for making the foot go down, and often these muscles are very tight in a person that has foot drop.
Weakness will often also be discovered in the certain muscles that let you stop your foot from turning in. Another foot drop symptoms is tingling or numbness in the lower portion of the leg, although this isn't always present.
The main cause for foot drop is based on a neurological disorder. It is very rare for the muscle to be lacking function or diseased. The neurological problem might be either peripheral or central. Some of the possible problem areas that can cause foot drop are:
- Sciatic nerve
- Neuromuscular disease
- Peroneal nerve
- Spinal Cord
- Genetic disease
- L5 nerve root
- Herniated disk
- Multiple sclerosis
- Motor neuron disease
To stop drop foot symptoms, the reason for the condition must be treated. Treatments include using orthoses to stabilize ankles, peroneal nerve stimulation, leg braces, and exercise. Some people use something called foot up ankles support, where a cuff is put around the person's ankles, along with a hook placed underneath the shoelaces. The hook aids the patient by lifting the shoe when walking.
The Finetech Medical's STIMuSTEP system is an implanted neuromuscular stimulator that uses functional electrical stimulation (FES) to help correct dropped foot condition. The system delivers small electrical pulses to the nerves that supply the paralysed muscles. This allows independent control of dorsiflexion (lifting the foot) and eversion (rotate ankle to the correct position), which correcting the abnormal movement of the affected foot during the swing phase of the gait.