Foot Gone Droopy? Head To The Foot Doctor To Find Out If It's Temporary Or Serious

Health & Medical Blog

The name "foot drop" is blunt but perfectly describes the sensation you feel if this condition happens to you. Normally, you're able to raise your foot to make your toes reach upward. With foot drop, your toes cannot be aimed upward, and your foot wants to droop from the ankle down if you lift your leg.

You may think a weak ankle is causing your foot droopiness, but there are several possible causes of foot drop. A proper examination by a foot specialist at a place like Oregon Foot Clinic will help you pinpoint the cause of your specific foot weakness. Here's what the foot doctor will be looking for:

Your other symptoms

Foot drop causes an exaggerated gait. People with foot drop often raise the thigh of the affected foot higher when they walk to make up for the foot's weakness. This may cause the foot to slap on the ground.

There may be numbness or pain on the top or the sole of the affected foot because of nerve damage. If injury to the foot is the cause, there may be swelling or bruising of the foot.

If you compressed your peroneal nerve

You may have heard of the sciatic nerve, which runs from spine to hip and down the leg on each side. The sciatic nerve divides into two nerve branches that further divide and run down the calves and feet. These branching nerves give your legs and feet sensation. The nerves also stimulate the muscles that move your legs and feet to help you perform activities like standing and walking. 

One of the main branches off the sciatic nerve is the peroneal nerve. Among other duties, it's responsible for helping you lift your toes in the air. If it gets smushed somewhere along its pathway, the pressure can cause nerve damage or blockage that affects the foot on that leg. Your foot doctor may ask you if you've done anything which may have pressed on the nerve. Working in skinny jeans, falling asleep with your leg in a strange position, or getting your leg stuck under something heavy can all cause foot drop.

Deeper causes

If you haven't done anything to cause compression of the nerves in your legs or feet, and there's been no direct injury to your foot, other causes will be explored by the foot specialist. There are a number of conditions that might lead to foot drop, including:

  • pelvic fracture
  • dislocation of hip
  • sciatic nerve injury 
  • knee dislocation
  • established compartment syndrome necrosis

If nerve injury is suspected, EMG and nerve studies will be done to figure out where the damage occurred. Other conditions may require you to undergo more advanced diagnostic tests, which may include an MRI, CAT scan, X-ray or lab work depending on the suspected problem.

If simple compression of the nerve is the cause, IV fluids are often given to "puff up" the leg and give the nerve room to start working properly. Custom orthotics or braces may be ordered for you to wear as you heal. Exercise and time heals mild foot drop, but the big toe is often the last to recover.

If the cause is a more serious issue like a pelvic fracture, that problem will be treated. Afterward, you may be prescribed physical therapy, medication and home exercises in combination with orthotics and nerve stimulation. In some cases, nerve repair, graft or tendon transfer is necessary to restore movement to the foot.


30 November 2016

introducing your daughter to the gynecologist

Having a daughter comes with a number of challenges. One challenge that you will one day need to tackle is determining when to introduce your daughter to the gynecologist. Do you take your daughter to the same gynecologist that you see or take her somewhere else? Do you wait until she gets her first period or do you take her in to learn about the menstrual cycle from the doctor? There is a long list of questions you likely have about introducing your daughter to the world of gynecology. Having gone through this twice myself, I have learned quite a bit and have included a lot of helpful information in my site to help other parents get through this complicated time a little easier.