Foot Drop and Walking Problems

Foot drop is a muscular weakness or paralysis which makes it difficult to lift the front part of your foot and toes. This can cause you to drag your foot on the ground making it difficult to walk. Foot drop is a sign of an underlying problem rather than a condition itself. It can be muscular, caused by nerve damage in the leg, or the result of a brain or spinal injury or a neurological condition such as MS or Parkinson's. Foot drop usually only affects one foot, but both feet can be affected depending on the cause. It can be temporary or permanent.

Muscle Weakness

Muscular dystrophy is a group of inherited genetic conditions that cause gradual muscle weakness and can sometimes lead to foot drop. Foot drop can also be linked to other muscle wasting conditions, such as spinal muscular atrophy or motor neurone disease.

Peripheral nerve problems or Neuropathy

Foot drop can be triggered by compression of nerves which control the muscles that lift the foot. Sometimes nerves around the knee or lower spine can become trapped. The nerves in the leg can become damaged during surgery for hip replacement or knee replacement. Foot drop can be caused by nerve damage linked to diabetes (known as a neuropathy). Conditions such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease are also known to be a common cause of peripheral nerve damage and muscle weakness leading to foot drop.

Brain and spinal cord disorders

Foot drop can also be caused by conditions that affect the brain or spinal cord, such as:

  • Stroke
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Multiple Sclerosis

There are a variety of ways PhysioFunction can help stabilise your foot and improve your walking ability.

These include:

Functional Electrical Simulation (FES) can help with foot drop by stimulating nerves to activate muscles so that the foot lifts up at the ankle. Not only does FES reduce trips and falls, it can also make walking faster and less effortful. Over time the muscles can even relearn how to lift the foot without the stimulator. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has declared FES as a safe and effective treatment for drop foot.

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To find out more about our services or how we can help you, please contact PhysioFunction or call 0800 043 0327