If the underlying cause can be treated, foot drop may improve or disappear. If the underlying cause can’t be treated, foot drop may be permanent.
In addition to treatment of the underlying problem, specific treatment may include:
- Braces or splints. These help hold the foot in a normal position.
- Ankle-foot orthoses. These are specialised L-shaped ankle splints. They simply hold the foot at 90° to the lower leg so that it can’t drop down.
- Physiotherapy. Exercises to strengthen leg muscles may improve walking problems associated with foot drop. Stretching exercises can prevent the development of stiffness in the heel. Learning to use a high stepping gait or swinging gait is an alternative approach that some people prefer.
- Specialised shoes. Shoes fitted with spring-loaded braces can help prevent the foot dropping whilst walking. One type uses a cuff around the ankle, a spring above and a hook in the shoelace area which connects to the spring and pulls the foot up during walking.
- Nerve stimulation. Sometimes stimulating the common peroneal nerve electrically improves foot drop. This type of treatment is usually used in people with disabilities and is sometimes called neuromuscular electrical stimulation. Many people with multiple sclerosis, or who have had a stroke, have had success with it.
- Surgery. Depending upon the cause, nerve surgery is occasionally helpful, aiming to repair or graft the nerve. If foot drop is long-standing, complex surgery that shifts working tendons to a different position is occasionally considered.