What Is Foot Drop?
Foot drop is a term used to describe the inability to extend or dorsiflex the foot. This type of weakness usually results in the inability to walk without tripping because the toe of the foot is not able to clear the floor after taking a step. Meaning, the front part of your foot may drag on the ground while you walk. Foot extension weakness is directly due to weakness of the tibialis anterior muscle that is responsible for this motor function. This is not a disease, but is instead a symptom of an underlying neurological condition. Depending on the case, a foot drop could be temporary or permanent. An individual might need to use a brace on the ankle or foot to walk normally.
Foot Drop Causes
Causes of foot drop are due to conditions that affect innervation of the tibialis anterior muscle. Common causes include L4/L5 radiculopathy or peroneal nerve palsy. L4/L5 radiculopathy occurs in the lower lumbar spine and is usually due to a herniated disc that impinges upon the exiting L4 or L5 nerve root. Peroneal nerve palsy on the other hand, is due to distal peripheral nerve injury in the leg just above the ankle. Often, this occurs due to compression of the peroneal nerve by a tendon or a tumor or due to trauma.
To differentiate between radiculopathy versus peroneal nerve palsy your physician should check for foot inversion and gluteus medius weakness (internal rotation of flexed hip)–both are spared and peroneal nerve palsy and both should be involved with radiculopathy. Other causes of foot drop include lumbar plexus injury, peripheral neuropathy, parasagittal brain lesions, spinal cord injury, muscular dystrophy, or ALS.
Treatment And Surgery For Foot Drop
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