Foot drop is a common condition that leads to gait abnormality. It is commonly seen that the dropping of the forefoot may happen because of weakness, irritation, paralysis of the muscle in the anterior portion of the lower leg. People with foot drop have to go through untold sufferings due to limited mobility and they feel very acute pain and difficulties in the foot while walking as well. Luckily there are some helpful devices to treat this complication such as foot drop brace. This is also called Ankle- Foot- Orthosis (AFO) braces which are designed to support the front of the foot and joint during walking or any activity.
In addition to this, there are different treatment plans for foot drop and we are going deeper thoughts about foot drop braces and treatment plans as well. So, you may read this article completely to get deeper ideas on foot drop, braces, and some treatment plans.
What is an AFO/Brace?
Ankle Foot Orthosis are specifically designed to make sure it can limit foot and ankle flexion by supporting the front of the foot and joint during walking or moving for any activity. There are different types of AFO brace for foot drop that envelops the calf, ankle, and foot to support the front of the foot. Most commonly there are two types of brace which are solid and hinged. A solid AFO brace can be used to treat and prevent the most severe condition of the foot drop and hinged AFO brace can be used to allow free ankle motion resulting in more normalized gait pattern and ankle power.
Uses of Ankle Foot Orthosis?
Ankle Foot Orthosis is the best use for the people who are suffering from foot drop. Foot drop is an inability to lift up one foot at the time of walking that causes in toes dragging on the ground. Foot drop is characterized by weakness and paralysis on one side of the body and some of the brain or nerve condition.
Doctors may also examine it as a weakness or slight paralysis on one side of the body is known as hemiparesis. But total paralysis on one side of the body is termed as hemiplegia. Here in this condition (Stroke, Lower leg (peroneal) nerve injury, Multiple sclerosis, Cerebral palsy, Muscular dystrophy, Traumatic brain injury (TBI), neck or spinal cord injury, Sciatica), Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO) can be a good option as they improve gait and toe clearance in patients with hemiplegia.
Types of Ankle Foot Orthosis
There are different types of Ankle-Foot- Orthoses (AFO). All restrain ankle motion. Some stabilize the ankle in a fixed position, others allow movement within a precise range and still others assist or resist movement into dorsiflexion or plantarflexion. A patient with isolated paralysis of the dorsiflexor muscles needs only a lightweight orthosis to resist the small torques tending to plantarflex the ankle during a swing. In contrast, a patient with paralysis of the plantar flexor muscles needs a heavy-duty orthosis to resist the big torques rotating the tibia over the fixed foot during stance.
Posterior Leaf Spring AFO
The posterior leaf spring AFO is a dorsiflexion-assist AFO. They make it from thin, light, thermoplastic material and worn inside a shoe. As the name implies, it assists dorsiflexion. It primarily uses in patients with isolated paralysis of the dorsiflexor muscles. The narrow strip of plastic behind the ankle gives flexibility, allowing the tibia to maneuver over the fixed foot during stance. However, when the foot is off the ground, the plastic recoils, preventing foot-drop. Leaf spring AFOs are commercially available in different sizes or can be individually made by orthotists.
Plastic Solid AFO
The plastic solid AFO is made from thermoplastic material. This AFO provides superior mediolateral support to the lighter posterior leaf spring AFO. Besides, it not only prevents plantarflexion during the swing but also prevents excessive rotation of the tibia over the fixed foot during stance. For this reason, it is typically used for patients with paralysis of the dorsiflexor and plantar flexor muscles.
To stabilize the ankle joint in this way, the orthosis is made from a heavy-duty thermoplastic material that wraps anterior to the ankle joint. The thickness of the plastic and the timeline of the orthosis around the ankle primarily determine its ability to resist collapse and excessive dorsiflexion during stance. Often, carbon composite inserts are wont to reinforce the ankle. Modifications to the base of shoes can cushion heel strike and help move the weight from the back of the foot to the front of the foot during stance.
Hinged Solid Plastic AFO
The hinged solid plastic AFO incorporates ankle joints. There are many types of ankle joints. One type assists dorsiflexion. It incorporates steel springs that compress during stance but rebound during the swing. In this way, it enables dorsiflexion during stance but prevents plantarflexion during the swing. Other types of joints include plastic overlap joints and posterior stop joints.
The toe-off AFO is made from the resin. It prevents foot-drop but also supports with the push-off phase of gait. It works on the principle of storing elastic energy for release at the end of the stance. In this way, it is like the poly fiber feet of below-knee prosthesis.
Double Metal Upright AFO
The double metal upright AFO supports the maximal control of the ankle. We use it in patients with paralysis of the dorsiflexor muscles and severe spasticity or contracture pulling the foot into plantarflexion and/or inversion. It comprises metal uprights that are attached to lace-up shoes. Different joints are used to prevent plantarflexion and/or to assist dorsiflexion. The need for lace-up boots/shoes and its low cosmesis prevents its wider use. However, the double metal stirrup AFO better accommodates edema and is associated with less risk of skin breakdown than a thermoplastic orthosis.
How Does an AFO Help Drop Foot?
AFO effectively reduces for weakness and deformities. AFO can be extensively used to provide better support for weak limbs also.
An AFO that blocks plantarflexion necessitates additional knee flexion at heel strike to get the foot flat on the ground. This requires large knee extensor torques to forestall knee collapse. The effect of an AFO on the knee at the heel strike is exacerbated when walking up or down slopes. Placing an AFO during a less dorsiflexed position reduces knee flexion at heel strike. Occasionally, the ankle joint is deliberately stuck in some plantarflexion. This helps stabilize the knee in extension and is employed for patients with weakness of the quadriceps muscles. However, the more plantarflexed the ankle, the more difficult patients have with clearing the toes during the swing. A heel rises on the opposite side can help foot clearance, although bilateral heel raises will not mitigate a bilateral problem with foot clearance.
An AFO that blocks dorsiflexion has important implications for performing gait-related tasks that rely on placing the foot in a fully dorsiflexed position. For instance, moving from sit to stand relies on positioning the feet under the body with the ankles dorsiflexed. If it fixes the ankles at 90°, the only way to get the feet flat on the ground is by placing them further away from the body. This makes it difficult to get the center of mass over the feet, a biomechanical prerequisite for standing up. Patients, therefore, ought to strike through the hands to initially shift weight over the feet.
Best Foot Drop Brace
Surely there are some best foot drop brace and splints in the market. But we have focused on the functionality and fast recovery from this foot brace in terms of foot drop. Here are some list of best foot brace for drop foot and you may know these in detail.
Step Smart Drop Foot Brace
The step smart drop foot brace is featured with a lightweight and energy-efficient brace. This brace is really helpful for providing good plantarflexion at heel strike. This brace is also made to handle shock absorption at heel strike and clearance on the swing phase. The compression components of this brace are another feature that makes sure resistance and comfort on different size of the foot. More importantly, this brace can alleviate foot drop symptoms effectively.
The brace can be a good choice as it is low profile and simple to use. This foot brace is made with high-quality materials that make this brace so comfortable to use. There is a different size but you should make sure your accurate size to get exact results indeed.
Foot Flexor AFO Foot Drop Brace
Core products foot flexor AFO Foot drop brace is designed for the people suffering foot drop and any other similar conditions. In this condition, it is important to add dorsal flexion support and you can get this support from this foot drop brace. This brace is really a solution in case someone has a problem with normal walking and it reduces any incidence of falls.
This brace is easy to wear and you can put on your shoe and wrap a foot flexor around your ankle. After that, you need to add the straps to the eyelet hooks on your shoe and you are ready for walking. Additionally, this brace is fully adjustable and you make sure the size chart to choose the best one for you.
Soft AFO Foot UP Drop Foot Brace
Soft AFO Foot Up drop foot brace can be the best support for the people who suffer from stroke, foot drop, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, muscular dystrophy, neuromuscular weakness. This brace is considered as the best support for the foot that offers support. One can wear this brace on the bed for long time use and you can also use it for day and night support.
There are free sizes that fit most of the people’s feet. The brace comes with high quality of materials which are velvet fabric, sponge plate, and nylon components which make sure comfort wear and lightweight.
Ossur Rebound Foot Up Drop Foot Ankle Brace
Ossur Rebound Foot up Drop Foot ankle brace is really great support for foot drop disorder. It effectively provides and ensures dorsiflexion during the swing phase and allows for plantar flexion and optional medial-lateral control. This ankle brace comes with easy customization and different size to be adjusted.
Additionally, there is a removable and adjustable ankle to shoe strap that indicates easy attachment to the shoe-lace hole. There are different size and you can choose according to your size.
The material of this shoe is worth adding comfort and satisfaction because it is made with a high quality of finish interior nylon and spandex material. Foam has also been used to make people feel comfortable but it is also long-lasting.
Ossur AFO Leaf Spring
Ossur AFO Leaf spring is one of the best supports for the foot which is made with pre-fabricated polypropylene ankle-foot orthosis. This is designed to support for flaccid drop foot extensively. It is also important to note that this can provide a semi-rigid section for toe clearance and support. This leaf spring is also featured with a thin, flexible footplate for easy trimming.
Ossur AFO leaf spring has the best fitting feature and it provides a perfect fit in shoes. People may use this leaf spring for most types of shoes.
Ossur Foot Up Drop Foot Brace
Ossur Foot Up drop foot brace has protection for the foot in terms of foot drop. This foot up is designed with lightweight AFO that effectively provides dynamic support for the drop foot or similar type of complication. This brace has functionality that the orthosis makes sure visible improvement in gait especially when the foot is raised.
This brace is made with cushioning materials that make people feel breathable and comfortable. The brace is designed with 3-layer material which can be used for a longer time as well. There are different size and you need to make sure your size. But universal size is also available.
Medical Ankle Foot Orthosis support Drop Foot Correction Brace
AFO brace medical ankle-foot orthosis support drop foot postural correction brace has a tremendous benefit for the foot drop, correction of foot varus, foot valgus, foot amyosthenia, Phil side nerve palsy caused by foot drop and other similar causes. This brace has a proper fit with the foot. In addition to this, the brace is so effective to wear after neurological impairment, dorsiflexion assistance.
This brace size comes with a little narrow and you need to check out your size when you are buying this brace. But this can be worn so easily with any shape of foot or shoes. You can use it for right or left foot. This brace is made with polypropylene and half-hard soles that ensures comfort and lightweight.
BraceAbility Dorsal Night Splint
BraceAbility Doral Night Splint is great support for plantar fasciitis, pain relief, foot drop. This brace clinically and medically proved as the best support for treating pain caused by plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis and foot drop.
The splint comes with different size and you need to make sure your size and this splint are also perfect to wear for both left or right foot. This splint is easy to wear for a long time and night time also because this is made with breathable material.
AFO Drop Foot support Splint Ankle Foot Orthosis Support
AFO drop foot support Splint provides static dorsiflexion assistance and lateral stability for the entire foot ankle. This splint is mainly designed for aiding foot drop which is a secondary to CVA or nerve palsy as well as heel cord tightness. This can support the foot in the proper position as well.
This splint is custom trimmed which is available for right or left foot and best fitted for men’s and women’s style. There is also an extra 8 shape band and padded hook and loop strap that secures the AFO and firmly supports around the calf.
Adjustable Foot Drop Ankle Brace
Adjustable foot drop ankle brace is the best to support and suitable for long term bed, prevent foot drop, reduce joint strain and ultimately improve microcirculation for the foot. this ankle brace is also effective for pain relief caused by Achilles tendinitis ankle joint drop foot orthosis. More importantly one can use this brace for more issues such as early planter flexion spasm, spinal cord trauma, stroke, cerebral sclerosis, and polio.
This ankle brace comes with the best design and comfort. This is made with perforated breathable materials that indicate easy to wear for a longer time. You can use it for day and night time also.
Night Splint Drop Foot Orthotic Brace
Night splint drop foot orthotic brace can be another good deal to get relief from morning pain as this provides a continuous stretch to your plantar fascia in the time of sleeping at night. It effectively reduces heel pain and stiffness caused by plantar fasciitis, drop foot, Achilles tendonitis. This brace helps provide needed support as it has an adjustable dorsiflexion strap that allows you to vary the degree of your stretch.
There is a universal design of this brace that fits most of the foot left or right. But you should also check the size chart to get your perfect deal. This brace also comes with the feature of lightweight and comfortability as it is made with high quality of materials such as neoprene material and soft foam insole.
What is Foot Drop?
Foot drop or drop foot is defined by difficulty and disability characterized by raising the front of the foot or any other movement of the foot. This movement is medically known as dorsiflexion which is caused by paralyzed or fractured muscle. There are different symptoms and sufferings of the foot drop which are commonly difficulty in limiting, turning and flexing the foot easily.
Individuals suffering this complicating have to face difficulties such as extending their foot and basic problems such as walking. It has also been found that people who are older age and stroke survivors with neurogenerative disorders and compressed nerves can develop the foot drop as well.
Foot Drop Causes
Foot drop is commonly known as the difficulty of walking and lifting the front part of the foot. This disorder is commonly seen in multiple sclerosis (MS). Additionally, Muscle and Nerve function in relation to MS can also develop the foot drop condition.
MS has a very compound link between the brain and the body, nerve problems, and people who may experience numbness or tingling in the extremities are common and primary symptoms of MS.
Nerve or nervous processes can be one of the most probable causes of a serious disorder. It is found that the foot drop is caused by personal nerve injury and peroneal muscle weakness as well. The muscle links down the outer leg that connects to the foot. It is to be noted that the peroneal nerve has a link with the sciatic nerve that comes from the lower back and goes down the leg. So, this MS may be found in single or both of the legs that lead to weakness and can make someone feel unstable on the feet.
There is another condition in relation to MS. People with this MS have to face difficulty feeling the floor and they don’t know where their feet stand on the floor. Medically it is called Sensory Ataxia which is referred to as muscle control problem that prevents coordination for the movement.
Not that MS-related causes are main for foot drop. But there may be a gait-related problem which is associated with other conditions. These are amyotrophic lateral sclerosis which is known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Muscular dystrophy, Storke, and Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease.
There are also some pieces of evidence of foot drop which is injury. An injury may affect the nerve in the knee and in the lower spine. In addition to this, HIP or Knee replacement surgery and diabetes are also common causes of foot drop.
Foot Drop Symptoms
There is a different symptom of foot drop which may come in different ways. But this can cause an abnormal decrease in the extent to which foot can’t be lifted from the ground during the swing phase of normal walking. There are some most common symptoms and signs of foot drop-
- Incapacity to grip footwear– when people with foot drop walk, they may feel discomfort and dragging of the affected foot.
- Tripping-there are frequent tripping as weakness in the muscle of the foot is found.
- Falls-When people have foot drop, it is common to fall down by losing balance and inability to lift the front part of the foot.
- Numbness-There is a loss of sensation that may occur on the front and outer side of the lower leg.
In addition to this, there are more symptoms that may be experienced and these include Romberg’s sign, often unilateral, decrease in muscle mass, limp foot, circumduction gait, high steppage gait, etc.
Diagnosis Foot Drop
Foot drop diagnosis may be completed often by a physical exam. Surely, you need to seek help from a doctor. Your doctor may go for the primary physical exam which may be to check for numbness on your shin and on top of your foot and toes. In addition to this, the doctor may go for extensive exams to diagnose foot drop and these may be completed by X-rays, Ultrasound, CT-Scan, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).
Foot Drop Treatment
Foot drop treatment varies according to the cause of the foot drop. So, it is important to make sure to get the causes of foot drop and start treatment. When the cause is detected successfully, the foot drop may disappear very quickly. But there are some more treatment options which include-
Braces or splints– Brace and splints are awesome treatment as it adjusts into your shop and holds your foot in normal position.
Physical therapy/exercise-Physical exercise and therapy are always good treatment options for foot drop. Exercise for foot drop energizes leg muscle and easily helps maintain the scale of motion in your knee and ankle also improves gait disorder linked with foot drop. There is another good exercise which is stretching and it is considered as important to reduce the stiffness in the heel.
Nerve stimulation-Nerve stimulation also improves the condition of the foot drop.
Surgery– Your doctor will examine the condition of the foot drop and he may decide to go for surgery in case it is considered as helpful for this disorder.
Frequently Asked Question on Foot Drop
Even if there is a lot to know about foot drop and braces. But there are some more information and you may know from these answers. Surely these are going to be helpful for you.
Can Foot drop be corrected with exercise?
Exercise is often helpful for any pain or disorder in the foot, ankle and lower leg. Exercise always strengthens muscle and energize the tissue. So, exercise has been considered as primary treatment for foot drop. Stretching and range of motion exercises can be helpful to treat stiffness from developing the heel.
Can you walk with drop foot?
Foot drop is a condition that hinders the lifting the front part of the foot. If the condition gets severe in terms of foot drop, it is often difficult and challenging to walk by lifting the knee. It is also so hard to move on the stair with foot drop.
Can drop foot heal itself?
Healing foot drop may depend on the cause and severity of this complication. If the condition is light, your foot drop may take only 6 weeks to get around. But due to any injury, foot drop may be so long and it takes a longer time and treatment plans to get recovery.
Are there special shoes for drop foot?
Surely there are special shoes for drop foot and most of the people with foot drop may find special shoes that firmly hold the ankle. These shoes may be tennis shoes that come as a good solution. In addition to this, there are some other types of shoes which are Doc martens or Mary Jane style shoes.
Does walking help drop foot?
Walking may be a therapy for drop foot. The aim of the therapy is to strengthen functional mobility in relation to walking. So walking can be a good option as part of treatment to get around safely and get control over your foot. But you need to be careful while walking.
Does Sleeping in a brace help foot drop?
Sleeping in a brace can be helpful and there are braces to be designed and worn for the whole night. This brace can provide firm support and keep the foot in a 90-degree position all night that also provides a nice stretch to get relief of foot aches. In addition to this, this can reduce morning pain also.
Foot drop may not be severe and long term in case you are on the right way. Firstly, it is important to look for physical therapy or foot drop braces which can be effective treatment without any side effects. There are huge evidences of recovery from foot drop by using foot drop braces. But the doctor may go for the higher medication in case there is complexity in this health condition. These foot drop braces are surely highly medical graded that treat this complication effectively.