A foot drop or a drop foot is a permanent anatomical or muscular problem where you experience difficulty in lifting the foot from the ankle joint. In most cases, people suffering from drop foot drag their foot while walking. Braces are used for supporting proper posture while walking.
In some cases, a foot drop is a permanent condition that affects people from birth such as in the case of muscular dystrophy. Other conditions that may cause a foot drop include stroke, neurodegenerative disorders such as polio, spinal injury, and peroneal nerve compression near the knee, which could result from an injury.
According to the Mayo Clinic, one of the main symptoms of foot drop is difficulty in lifting the foot or being unable to walk without dragging the foot. This could be coupled with acute pain or numbness in the foot. If you are experiencing any of this, you must consult a doctor immediately.
If your doctor concludes that you are suffering from foot drop, he will recommend tests such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging and nerve conduction studies. Remember to describe how the problem began in detail such as an injury or an accident so your doctor can suggest the treatment ideal for your condition.
One of the most widely used treatments for foot drop is braces to hold the foot in normal position. Other treatments include physiotherapy, electric stimulation of nerves and surgery. Surgery is advised in cases where the foot drop is a permanent condition and the surgery makes the foot stronger, though it does not restore normal gait.
Braces or ankle foot orthodontics (AFOs) are divided into five categories:
1. Short leg foot brace is recommended to patients who have a flat foot and are short in height. While it assists patients in walking, it does not support a normal walk.
2. Dorsiflexion assist foot brace supports the ankle through a spring action and helps you in lifting the foot while walking. This brace is not recommended for people over 225 lbs.
3. Plantarflexion assist foot brace helps control foot drop in the forward direction and is used for patients with severe drop foot. It is comparatively heavy compared to other braces.
4. Solid foot brace is used for patients with a very severe case of drop foot where dorsal and plantar flexion are both limited.
5. Posterior leaf foot brace is a traditional foot brace that is not usually recommended because of its old design but can be used for patients who have problems in the knee as well.
You will need special socks and shoes to wear along with your foot brace, which your doctor can recommend.