It seemed like out of nowhere, you started having issues with walking; your toes and foot seemed to drag a bit as if unable to completely clear the ground or floor—your toes scrapping a bit as you went. You began hearing an odd slapping sound. You resorted to lifting your foot up higher in order to avoid this, and you found you had to focus to avoid tripping while climbing the stairs, as they were particularly difficult. Additionally, there was a slight tingling sensation, numbness and a faint pain in your foot that just wouldn’t go away. After a series of doctor visits and tests—amid your rapidly escalating apprehension and alarm—you were given the prognosis, “You have Foot Drop.”
What is Foot Drop?
When the muscles and tendons that pull up your foot no longer are working, you will experience Foot Drop. They are no longer working, and have become weakened or paralyzed, because the nerves which mobilize or innervate them have been damaged and are now unable to continue to do so. Therefore, when there is this loss of nerve function to muscles which cause the ankle to dorsiflex, or to lift upward off of the ground, foot drop occurs. These muscles are called, “dorsal extensor“ muscles which are the extensor digitorum longus, the extensor hallucis longus, and the tibialis anterior, and are the muscles involved in foot drop
Is Foot Drop a Disease?
If there is anything you must first understand about “Drop Foot,” or “Foot Drop” as it is also known by, is that it is a deceptively simple term for a very serious medical condition. It is not itself a disease, but rather an easily apparent, highly distressing symptom of a critical underlying muscular, anatomical or neurological issue. Once you begin to comprehend the limitations it imposes, ranging from facing the impossibility of walking your dog every morning, taking coffee to your co-workers or jogging, to being unable to safely drive your care, perform your duties at work or care for an elderly parent, you will realize that not only is it something that requires immediate attention, but also something you most likely will need considerable time, energy and financial resources to fully address.
Is Foot Drop a Permanent Condition?
The best case scenario is that sometimes foot drop is temporary. However, it is highly possible that someone who suffers from foot drop may experience a series of permanent, and therefore inevitable, life changing complications. What this really means to you unfortunately, is that curing your foot drop is most likely not going to be a very simple matter. What you must absolutely determine however, is if someone else is responsible for your foot drop, what your best course of action is, where your solutions lie and with whom. There are medical disorders or conditions which naturally occur and which cause foot drop. These are highly unfortunate and tragic situations where the patient will need to turn to health insurance or private funds to secure the necessary treatment. There are other situations however where foot drop injury is the result of a car accident, workplace injury, product liability in which a defective product caused the injury [hip replacement for example] or even medical malpractice—which if can be proved—you will receive substantial compensation for.
Signs & Symptoms of Foot Drop:
• Inability to point your toes in an upward direction
• Tingling, numbness, weakness, pain on the top of your foot
• Loss of the functionality of your foot
• Difficulty in lifting the front part of the foot, resulting in your toes dragging along the ground while walking
• High-stepping walk
• Feeling of numbness from the knees to the top of your toes
• Inability to lift up your foot or toes – resulting in the dragging of your feet
• Slapping of your toes uncontrollably against the ground
• Muscle atrophy around your leg
• Excessive swinging of your hip
What underlying problems or medical conditions cause Foot Drop?
1. Muscle or Nerve Disorders: Muscular Dystrophy, Lou Gehrig’s disease [ALS], Polio, Parkinson’s disease.
2. Brain and Spinal Disorders: Stroke, Tumor, Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease
3. Nerve Damage or Nerve Injury to the Peroneal Nerve:
The most common cause of foot drop is compression or injury of the peroneal nerve in your leg that controls the muscles involved in lifting the foot. The peroneal nerve joins the tibial nerve to form the sciatic nerve. Both the peroneal nerve and the tibial nerve innervate, or supply movement and sensation, to different parts of the lower leg. The sciatic nerve is the largest single nerve in the body, and extends from the back of the pelvis down the back of the thigh. It is what is called a peripheral nerve which means that it is a nerve beyond the brain or spinal cord. These nerves connect the brain and spinal cord to the entire body, and control the functions of sensation, movement and coordination to specific areas of skin and muscles. They are fragile and can be damaged easily. When damage to these nerves occurs, it disrupts communication between the brain and the rest of the body; it can impede muscle movement, prohibit normal sensation in the limbs and cause unrelenting pain.
What Causes Injury to the Peroneal Nerve?
The peroneal nerve is susceptible to many different types of injury. Some of these include:
1. Lower back injury: herniated disc, spinal stenosis, disc slippage
2. Spinal cord injury
3. Bone fractures in the leg and vertebrae
4. Lacerations, nicking, slicing
5. Injuries causes by crushing and compression
6. Trauma to the sciatic nerve
7. Pelvic fracture
8. Hip dislocation
9. Knee dislocation
10. Nerve Damage caused by Diabetic Neuropathy
Direct trauma to the tibialis anterior muscle that causes rupture or compartment syndrome may also result in foot drop. Furthermore, if there is an overgrowth of bone in the spinal canal, or a lesion, tumor, or cyst pressing upon the nerve in the knee or spine, foot drop may occur.
Common causes of foot drop injuries may include:
• Motor vehicle accidents
• Workplace Accidents
• Defective Products – Including defective medical implants, hip replacement implants
• Animal bites and punctures
• Sports Injuries
• Prolonged hospitalization and/or bed rest
• Cast immobilization
• Birth Injuries – Cerebral Palsy, Delivery Trauma
• Surgical procedures including knee arthroplasty and hip surgery
• Medical Malpractice–Foot drop injuries often result from negligent surgical methods and errors
• Failure to Diagnose foot drop:
o Foot drop may become more severe, the longer it goes undiagnosed and untreated.
How is Foot Drop Diagnosed?
Initial diagnosis often is made during a routine physical examination, but can be confirmed by a chiropractor, neurosurgeon, neurologist, podiatrist, osteopath, physiatrist, or orthopedic surgeon. Imaging tests frequently are required in order to identify the underlying cause of foot drop and may include: X-Rays, CT Scans, Ultrasound, MRI, EMG.
WHAT ARE TREATMENTS FOR FOOT DROP?
Diagnosis is necessary to determine the specific cause of foot drop and to ensure that the most suitable treatment plan is selected. There are both non-surgical and surgical treatments for Foot Drop. These are:
•Orthotics, including foot splints or braces
• Physical therapy, including gait training
• Electronic Nerve Stimulation
• Anti-inflammatory medications
• Nerve surgery
• Surgery to fuse ankle or foot bones
• Surgery to reposition a functioning tendon in the foot
• Decompression surgery
• Nerve sutures, nerve grafting, nerve transfer or tendon transfer
The Cost & Consequences of Foot Drop:
The process involved in diagnosing your Foot Drop can be very expensive, but then there are the subsequent costs of Foot Drop treatment which can be extremely high, particularly if these involve surgery. In addition to these expenses, you must consider any lost income resulting from your injury. Equally detrimental is the loss of function of your foot, the loss of enjoyment of your normal activities, the emotional distress you will undoubtedly suffer, and most critically, your overall quality of life which has been adversely affected.
Foot Drop Lawsuits:
If there was a person or entity that was responsible for causing you to develop foot drop or failing to diagnose foot drop, they may be liable for paying not only these costs, but for compensating you for the pain and suffering you have endured. For example:
• If a workplace injury caused you to develop foot drop, you may be entitled to receive workers compensation benefits for this.
• In car accident cases, the driver may have been unreasonably careless and therefore liable for your injuries.
• A doctor might have made a surgical mistake, diagnostic mistake or failed to diagnose your foot drop.
Foot drop cases can be high-stakes cases because of the serious consequences of nerve damage. Those who find they are unable to work because they suffer from serious pain and complications arising from foot drop, may likely be entitled to compensation for this debilitating injury. It is critical to find a medical malpractice attorney in your state that is most qualified to handle your case. Members of BlueBook Law Society are those attorneys who have been highly recommended for membership, by other leading attorneys throughout the country. We suggest you refer to the following medical malpractice attorneys:
Ohio Medical Malpractice attorney Gerry Leeseberg:
San Francisco, California Medical Malpractice attorney Ed Nevin:
San Francisco, California Medical Malpractice attorney Rich Schoenberger:
Stockton, California Medical Malpractice attorney Stew Tabak:
Baltimore, Maryland/D.C. Medical Malpractice attorney Henry Dugan:
D.C. Medical Malpractice attorney Patrick Malone:
New Jersey Medical Malpractice attorney Dennis Donnelly:
Kansas Medical Malpractice attorney Jim Bartimus:
Atlanta, Georgia Medical Malpractice attorney Adam Malone:
Phoenix, Arizona Medical Malpractice attorney Brian Leonard:
North Carolina Medical Malpractice attorney William Mills:
Chicago, Illinois Medical Malpractice attorney David Axelrod:
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Medical Malpractice attorney James Dattilo:
Rochester, NY Medical Malpractice attorney Peter Rodgers: