So You’re Having A Relapse: My Experience With Foot Drop

There really is humor in every situation if you look hard enough. Last week I submitted an article to be published in MSFocus Magazine all about foot drop and that exact same day I actually developed foot drop- oh I see what you did there multiple sclerosis, very funny! And so began my latest relapse. I just finished up a 5 day course of IV steroids and I’m back to walking fairly normally again, but you know I couldn’t resist snapping a few photos and taking a couple of videos in the interest of education and science! So foot drop is when you can’t pick up your foot while walking, either because of a muscle problem or because of a nerve problem, and therefore the toes drag on the ground while you try to walk. Instead of the normal heel-toe sequence it’s now more of a drag-flop action. This is pretty dangerous because it makes it VERY easy to trip and fall. Foot drop is pretty common in MSers, and it may either accompany a relapse and only be temporary like mine, or it can become permanent. To show you what it looks like I took some pictures, shown below. I still had some ability to move the foot, but not much as you will see (also, be prepared to see A LOT of pictures of my feet…sorry)…

Here it is at rest while laying down, not much to see but you can definitely notice that the toes of the right foot don’t have good muscle tone by the way that they drop below my big toe. Normally they form an arch like on the left foot.

Here I am pointing both feet as much as possible, the muscles in my right leg are too weak to go very far.

And now I’m pointing my toes up towards my head as much as I can. I can do this at least a little bit on the right, but you can really see the difference in the muscle tone between the two feet.

And yea, spreading the toes just doesn’t happen at all.

It’s kind of like having your leg fall asleep, but without all the numbness and tingling. So I sucked it up at got a cane so that I didn’t end up falling down and getting hurt. I also found that a well-chosen shoe can work wonders. Anything with a really firm sole that comes up to the ankle will actually keep your foot from dropping too far and help tremendously. For patients with more permanent problems an AFO brace can be fitted by a physical therapist, and it can be used inside of your shoe. Physical therapy, nerve stimulators, and the medication Ampyra can also help anyone with more of a permanent disability. I shot a video walking barefoot, and a video wearing a good pair of hiking boots that became my best friends. Please excuse the fact that I’m wearing rolled up velour pants with hiking boots, fashion isn’t a priority during relapses!

The before (barefoot) video:

The after (with boot) video:

Thankfully after five days of IV steroids I’m back on my feet (literally). I hope my relapse tips and tricks help you guys if you should encounter foot drop yourselves…now I just have to deal with the indigestion, insomnia, and night sweats of IV steroids- oy!

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