Treatment of Drop Foot
Once your doctor diagnoses the underlying cause of a drop foot, treatment of that condition may heal the drop foot, as well. A common noninvasive way to help the affected foot function is a brace called an ankle-foot orthosis (AFO). The bottom part of the brace supports the underside of the foot and the top part attaches to the lower leg to assist the foot and ankle in functioning more normally. In addition to an AFO, exercise or physical therapy is often prescribed to strengthen muscles, improve range of ankle joint motion and improve gait.
If the underlying cause is a disorder of the peroneal nerve, an electronic device may be used to stimulate the nerve.
In more severe cases that do not respond to noninvasive techniques, a surgical procedure called “tendon transfer” can be used to address drop foot.This involves taking a functional tendon and attached muscle from one part of the foot and putting it in place of the non-functioning muscle(s) and tendon(s).
If there is permanent loss of functionality, a doctor may recommend surgery that fuses the foot and ankle.
Foot Care for Drop Foot
If an AFO has been prescribed to help manage your drop foot, be aware that you will need appropriate socks to protect the skin and soft tissues of your feet from the devices. See this article from Lower Extremity Review magazine for a discussion of AFOs and protective interfaces.