Treatment for foot drop will vary depending on the cause. Typical treatments for foot drop include one or some combination of the following approaches:
Foot Drop Braces and Splints (Orthoses)
Orthoses, such as a drop foot brace or splint, are often the first line treatment by providing stabilization of the ankle and the foot. An Ankle-Foot-Orthosis (AFO) can be used to keep the dropped foot off the ground while walking if the patient has the functional use of their muscles. This creates a more even and more normal gait.
A brace for foot drop is used to keep the ankle at 90 degrees and prevents the foot from dropping toward the ground. The drop foot brace makes it easier for the patient to walk and more difficult to trip. The most common type of foot drop brace is made of polypropylene and is inserted into a shoe.
Physical Therapy as a Foot Drop Treatment
In many cases, specific exercises may be advised to help the affected muscles.
In situations where foot drop has caused a significant gait disturbance, physical therapy may be necessary. Specialized physical therapy for foot drop may include gait training, which teaches the patient how to walk correctly again.
Read more in the Physical Therapy Health Center
Non-Surgical Foot Drop Treatments and Surgery
If a lower back condition is causing the dropped foot, specific non-surgical foot drop treatments many be the correct course of action.
- Herniated disc. If a bulging or herniated disc is causing the foot drop, nonsurgical treatments such as physical therapy and fluoroscopically guided epidural steroid injections may be appropriate. In some cases, the disc may need to be surgically removed to take the pressure off the nerve.
- Spinal Stenosis. Treatment might include an exercise program developed by a physical therapist, activity modification, epidural injections or anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen or aspirin. If necessary, a decompression surgery might be performed.
- Spondylolisthesis. Non-surgical treatments are similar to the non-surgical treatments for spinal stenosis. Spinal fusion surgery may be required to treat this condition.
- Vertebral Fractures. Nearly half of all vertebral fractures occur without any significant back pain. If pain medication, progressive activity or a brace or support does not help with the fracture, two minimally invasive proced ures may provide relief:
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Any patient who suspects drop foot is advised to consult with a medical professional as soon as possible to seek appropriate treatment and avoid possible complications.