Acupuncture Treatments for Drop Foot
Foot drop, or drop foot, is a term used to describe difficult in lifting the front part of the foot. It might drag on the ground, lead to a high step gait, or contribute to tripping and difficulty in holding footwear. Foot drop in and of itself is not a condition – it is a sign of an underlying problem that can be neurological, muscular, or anatomical.
Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of drop foot can be gradual or sudden, depending on the individual. Typically, they make it difficult for the person to stand, walk, or lift the affected foot, which can lead to a change in the walking pattern or gait.
When someone is in the swing phase of walking (the part of the walk cycle where the front of the foot lifts off before the heel presses down in the next step), drop foot is an abnormal decrease in how much the front of the foot can be lifted off the ground. Individuals with drop foot may also experience:
• Falls due to the inability to lift the front part of the foot and toes
• Tripping caused by weakness in the muscles of the foot and toes
• High stepping gait, used to prevent toes from scraping the floor
• Inability to hold footwear due to the feeling of loosening of the footwear
• Limp foot, when the foot may flop away from the body
• Numbness due to loss of sensation in the front and/or the upper part of the foot or the lower leg
• Circumduction gait when the leg swings around to the side
• Loss of balance
• Decrease in muscle mass
Foot drop may be due to nerve compression, leading to weakness, pain, and/or numbness. Some people with drop foot have compressed nerves at the L5, common peroneal neuropathy, or sciatic neuropathy.
Many people with drop foot have weakness in specific leg muscles, such as the tibialis anterior, extensor hallucis longus, or extensor digitorum longus. Weakness in these muscles can be caused by muscular or neurological disorders.
Neurological Causes – Pinched, damaged, or degenerated nerves
• Radiculopathy – Irritation or compression of spinal nerve roots in the lumbar and/or sacral spine. Can be related to a foraminal spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, or a herniated disc.
• Neuropathy – When a nerve is damaged, compressed, or degenerated along its path. Foot drop is usually related to neuropathy of the common peroneal, sciatic, or deep peroneal nerve, but may alos be related to systemic conditions such as autoimmune disorders, genetic disorders, systemic disorders, or excessive use of alcohol.
Muscular Causes – Loss of function in the pretibial, peroneal, or hip flexor muscles
Certain occupations that involve prolonged kneeling or squatting, such as installing flooring, may lead to foot drop due to nerve compression. Habitual postures like leg crossing can contribute to peroneal nerve compression and resulting foot drop.
Acupuncture and Drop Foot
As mentioned previously, foot drop is the result of an underlying condition. Affinity Acupuncture has extensive experience in treating the underlying causes, such as neuropathy. We also offer ATP Resonance BioTherapy, which is the application of a microcurrent, which helps to encourage natural healing and reduce pain. In some instances of a herniated disc, surgery is needed to remove the disc and take pressure off the nerve. Acupuncture and oxygen therapy at Affinity Acupuncture can help decrease recovery time.
Directed by William Alexander, L.Ac., C.SMA, a specialist in seemingly hopeless cases, Affinity Acupuncture | Integrative Medicine provides an environment dedicated to you and your better health.
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