Foot being looked at by a health professional

Foot drop (or decreased ground clearance) can be a common symptom for those living with MS and it can have significant effects on walking.

What is foot drop

You may have heard of the term ‘foot drop’ which can be associated with MS. It’s a slightly misleading term as many individuals with MS do not experience ‘foot drop’ as a floppy foot but actually decreased ability to clear the ground when walking. This results in either catching the foot or the whole leg just feeling really heavy and difficult to move.

It is common to feel that you can walk fine for 10 minutes or so but as you keep walking your leg becomes more difficult to move and catching the ground. This is due to neuromuscular fatigue. Neuromuscular fatigue is when the muscle runs out of energy.

Unfortunately, due to where plaques are on the central nervous system, this results in certain muscles only being partially innervated, the remaining part of the muscle that is still innervated just runs out of reserves. If you take a short rest, you can often find that you can walk okay again until the fatigue kicks in as the muscle’s energy reserves are depleted again.

Foot drop in MS

However, it should be noted that MS is highly individual and the reason that someone may be struggling to clear the ground when walking might be due to not only weakness and neuromuscular fatigue but also potentially spasticity and loss of range of movement.

Due to the complexity of the potential impairments that could be causing the issues it is really important to have a physical assessment with a neurological physiotherapist that can assess all of this for you. Then they can provide an individualised rehabilitation program to assist.

What to do if you have foot drop

The good news is that no matter what particular impairment is affecting someone’s walking and ability to clear the ground, there are a number of options that can help to improve an individual’s situation. This can include using orthotics that support your foot and ankle. Again, this is a specialised area and even if an orthotist prescribes a brace or support it is strongly recommended to complete some gait training with a neuro physiotherapist.

Video Summary

This recorded webinar covers the range of causes of foot drop and will give you an understanding of how to maximise walking and function.

  • Length – 45 minutes
  • Foot drop is complex
  • You need to have an expert assessment
  • There is a lot that can be done to improve your foot drop – both with rehab and assistive devices
  • Enabling you to walk well is paramount for overall wellness

Slides

This webinar series is made possible thanks to our friends at Roche

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