Drop Foot – Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

Foot drop or drop foot is a condition where the muscles on the front of the lower leg are greatly weakened.  A deficit in turning the ankle and toes upward is the result. Sufferers of drop foot generally lose the ability to pull the toes up while the leg is moving forward, and a simple routine like walking becomes a challenge since the toe can catch as the foot drops.

Foot drop is characterized by steppage gait (drop foot gait). When the person with foot drop walks, the foot plantar flexes or slaps down on the floor. To balance for the toe drop, the patient must raise the thigh excessively, in such a way that it looks as if the patient is walking up stairs.

Drop foot (a weakness in ankle dorsiflexion) is however not a disease but a symptom of an underlying problem (could be neurological, muscular or anatomical problem). It may be temporary or permanent, depending on the causes of it. The most common cause for foot drop syndrome is an injury to the peroneal nerve at the top of the calf behind the knee. Other major causes of foot drop also includes strokes, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and muscular dystrophy.

Treatments for drop foot will depend on the underlying cause of the foot dropping. In general, a drop foot orthopedic devices, such as a drop foot brace or ankle foot orthoses (AFO stabilizing orthoses) will be used to stabilize the foot and ankle.  Comfort Shoe Specialists of St. Louis are experts at fitting people that use AFO devices.  From sandals to walking shoes to dress wear, we have footwear with extra, extra depth to accommodate the room needed for AFO’s.  Aetrex provides 1-2 additional insoles as do Drew and PW Minor.  Fitting AFO’s can be frustrating but Comfort Shoe Specialists of St. Louis eases and pleases our patients with solutions that work!

Another modality is a Foot Up Device.  The Foot Up Device is 2 parts, one attaches to the laces or velcro straps of the instep (or can be sewn on an instep), and the other attaches to the ankle.  The shoe is put on then attached to the ankle piece.  The front of the shoe is not allowed to fall.  A big advantage is the increased muscle activity of the affected leg.

How is the Foot up different from other AFO devices?

Foot-Up means that for drop foot or similar complaints there is at last an aid that is effective and truly patient-friendly as well. This is because the clever design of the Foot-Up lightweight ankle-foot orthoses not only provides visible improvement in the patient’s gait, but also ease of use, comfort and freedom of movement. Although hardly anyone will see that your patient is wearing a Foot-Up, the results will certainly be noticeable.

Another advantage of the Foot-Up is the ease of fitting a pair of shoes since no extra space is required.

Gait analysis and training is usually incorporated as therapy to get the patient to walk properly.