The Science of Walking Comfort

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What exactly is Foot Drop Syndrome?

As part of our weekly blog posts and series, many of you have seen the term “foot drop” mentioned in several articles. While the first thing we think of is fallen or dangling feet, the syndrome revolves around the inability to lift the front part of the foot. This results in severe immobility, along with flat feet and fallen arches. Foot drop syndrome is mainly caused by paralysis or weakness of the muscles, tendons, and joints. While this is surely hereditary, the disorder can also be caused by extensive damage to the front part of the feet or injuries. Symptoms can range from pain and stiffness to complete numbness. Treatments for this issue are administered by board certified podiatrists and foot specialists.

The Causes

As mentioned above, foot drop syndrome prevents optimal mobility in the foot. Sufferers are not able to lift the front part of the feet resulting in improper balance and other issues. In addition to injuries, accidents, and genetics, there are other underlying causes attributed to this growing syndrome. These include but are not limited to:

  • Nerve injuries – These are the most common causes of the disorder. They stem from compression of the nerves in the legs that control muscle movements in the foot. Whether via natural causes or injuries, compressed nerves in the legs limit the ability to lift up the foot. Nerves can also get damaged during knee or hip replacement surgeries, resulting in foot drop on one or both feet. Nerve rot injuries (pinched nerves) in the spine can also cause this common and growing condition. While anyone can experience this syndrome, diabetics are especially susceptible. This is because those suffering from diabetes often tackle with nerve disorders and other related ailments.
  • Nerve or muscle disorders – Muscular dystrophy can also lead to foot drop syndrome. This, of course, is an inherited disease, which can seriously weaken the muscles, tendons, and joints. Along with muscular dystrophy, polio or Charcot-Marie-Tooth diseases can cause foot drop syndrome as well.
  • Spinal cord and brain disorders – Brain and spinal cord disorders can also result in foot drop disease. This is especially true with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), along with multiple sclerosis and stroke.

The Symptoms

Foot drop entails a myriad of common and extensive symptoms. While it is difficult for sufferers to lift the front part of their feet, the feet can also drag on the floor when the walk. To effectively counter this issue, many lift their thighs when they walk. This offers temporary comfort and mobility, however, is not a lasting cure or treatment option. The foot can also slap the foot down on any pavement or surface. This, of course, is due to the odd gait or abnormality, which can result in numbness throughout the feet and toes. While foot drop syndrome typically affects one foot, it is possible for the other one to be impacted as well. If you experience dragging feet or toes touching the floor when you walk, it is time to consult with a foot specialist or podiatrist right away. This can prevent permanent or irreparable harm and damage from occurring.

The Risk Factors

There are several risk factors associated with drop foot as well. In a nutshell, the peroneal nerve controls the muscles that lift the foot. The nerve is situated near the surface of the skin, and the side of the knee closest to the hand. If the nerve gets damaged due to certain factors or activities, the result is surely drop foot syndrome. These activities or motions include:

Wearing leg casts - Plaster casts due to injuries enclose the ankle and end just below the knee. This can exert extensive pressure on the peroneal nerve.

Crossing the legs - People that often cross their legs can compress the peroneal nerve on the uppermost leg.

Extended kneeling - Extended squatting or kneeling can result in foot drop. This is especially true for general carpenters, handyman, farmers, and tile installation experts. .