Question: Is it even possible to regain enough strength if you have Foot-Drop?
Treatment for foot drop requires treating the underlying medical condition that caused it. In some cases foot drop can be permanent, but many people are able to recover. There are a number of treatments that can help with foot drop:
If your foot drop is caused by a pinched nerve or herniated disc then you will likely have surgery to treat it. Surgery may also be necessary to repair muscles or tendons if they were directly damaged and are causing foot drop. In severe or long term cases, you might have surgery to fuse your ankle and foot bones and improve your gait.
2: Functional Electrical Stimulation
If your foot drop is being caused by damage to the peroneal nerve then Functional Electrical Stimulation may be an alternative to surgery. A small device can be worn or surgically implanted just below the knee that will stimulate the normal function of the nerve, causing the muscle to contract and the foot to lift while walking.
3: Braces or Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO)
Wearing a brace or AFO that supports the foot in a normal position is a common treatment for foot drop. The device will stabilize your foot and ankle and hold the front part of the foot up when walking. While traditionally doctors have prescribed bulky stiff splints that go inside the shoe, the SaeboStep is a lightweight and cost effective option that provides support outside the shoe.
Specific exercises that strengthen the muscles in the foot, ankle and lower leg can help improve the symptoms of foot drop in some cases. Exercises are important for improving range of motion, preventing injury, improving balance and gait, and preventing muscle stiffness.
Here are some helpful exercises you can try:
1. Towel Stretch - Sit on the floor with both legs straight out in front of you. Loop a towel or exercise band around the affected foot and hold onto the ends with your hands. Pull the towel or band towards your body. Hold for 30 seconds. Then relax for 30 seconds. Repeat 3 times.
2. Toe to Heel Rocks - Stand in front of a table, chair, wall, or another sturdy object you can hold onto for support. Rock your weight forward and rise up onto your toes. Hold this position for 5 seconds. Next, rock your weight backwards onto your heels and lift your toes off the ground. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat the sequence 6 times.
3. Marble Pick Up - Sit in a chair with both feet flat on the floor. Place 20 marbles and a bowl on the floor in front of you. Using the toes of your affected foot, pick up each marble and place it in the bowl. Repeat until you have picked up all the marbles.
4. Ankle Dorsiflexion - Sit on the floor with both legs straight out in front of you. Take a resistance band and anchor it to a stable chair or table leg. Wrap the loop of the band around the top of your affected foot. Slowly pull your toes towards you then return to your starting position. Repeat 10 times.
5. Plantar-flexion - Sit on the floor with both legs straight out in front of you. Take a resistance band and wrap it around the bottom of your foot. Hold both ends in your hands. Slowly point your toes then return to your starting position. Repeat 10 times.
6. Ball Lift - Sit in a chair with both feet flat on the floor. Place a small round object on the floor in front of you (about the size of a tennis ball). Hold the object between your feet and slowly lift it by extending your legs. Hold for 5 seconds then slowly lower. Repeat 10 times.
Don’t let foot drop affect your mobility, independence, and quality of life. With proper rehabilitation and assistive devices, many people are able to overcome the underlying cause of their symptoms and get back to walking normally. If you are showing symptoms of foot drop, talk to a medical professional about your treatment options.