Annie Lennox is known for her catchy 80’s pop hits, stylish pixie cut, and philanthropic work preventing the spread and stigma of AIDS. In recent years, she has opened up about her new battle living with foot drop. This condition, as Annie has implied in interviews, can take a physical and emotional toll. We often take walking for granted. Imagine what would happen if your foot suddenly went numb and you were unable to move it. To accommodate you would have to either drag the limb or lift your thigh up high as if you were marching (also known as steppage gait). The task of walking with foot drop is extremely difficult and can increase the chance of falling.
Foot drop can arise from several different ailments. What ultimately lead Annie Lennox down this road was a bulging disc pressing on her spinal cord. The sciatic nerve arises from the spinal cord and branches into the tibial and peroneal (fibular) nerve. The peroneal nerve innervates the muscles of the leg which are capable of dorsiflexing the foot. Dorsiflex just means to flex your foot in the direction towards your leg (as opposed to plantarflex which means flexing your foot towards the ground). Dorsiflexion is important while walking because it allows your foot to clear the ground when taking a step. Without this action, the foot flops and hits the ground.
People with diabetes with uncontrolled blood sugar levels are at a higher risk of developing this disease. The sugar is able to make complexes in the blood that damage peripheral nerves. Other causes of foot drop include ALS (amylotrophic lateral sclerosis), MS (multiple sclerosis), spending long hours cross-legged or on bed rest, hip and knee replacement surgery, stroke, injury, or spinal stenosis.
Foot drop is a sign of a more serious underlying condition and should be evaluated by a doctor. Podiatrists, like Dr. Mark Green, are well trained in helping patients manage walking with a foot drop deformity. At Kansas City Foot and Ankle, the gold standard of care to assist walking with foot drop is an ankle foot orthotic (AFO). This is a custom brace that can fit inside your shoe. There are two types of AFO’s for foot drop: a hinged brace or a fixed brace. By measuring the stability of your knee, Dr. Green will determine which will work best for you. If you have a stable knee with adequate ankle dorsiflexion, you may be a candidate for the hinged AFO which acts a spring to dorsiflex your foot for you. A fixed brace is also a great option as it keeps your foot at a 90 degree angle to the leg to prevent it from hitting the ground with each step.
As the title of a popular Annie Lennox song goes, “Don’t Let it Bring you Down”. With Dr. Mark Green, located in south Kansas City, you can overcome this obstacle. He will make you an orthotic that will give your foot the lift it needs to get you back in full stride. Kansas City Foot and Ankle also offers a full line of stylish diabetic shoes.