If you suffer from drop foot, there is no longer any reason to wait for the other shoe to drop! In fact, there are a variety of innovative ways for doctors to treat drop foot with new and modern technologies. Symptoms of drop foot (also referred to as ‘foot drop’) may include the inability to lift the front part of one or both feet. In turn, people with drop foot tend to drag their toes along the ground when walking.
Drop foot can be caused by a number of different reasons. From nerve damage to muscle disorders or a spinal injury, people of all ages can suffer from drop foot. Luckily, there are a number of ways to treat drop foot and one of those includes nerve regeneration.
Dr. Paul Klein is a podiatrist based in New Jersey. When a patient presents symptoms, including drop foot, Dr. Klein has the ability to test the nerves in his or her foot. This nerve conduction velocity (NCV) test, perfected at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, measures how fast an electrical impulse moves through a nerve.
From this testing, Dr. Klein can identify those nerves that still have life in them and, for those that do have life in them, he is able to regenerate them. One of the ways to do so is simply through decompression.
“I would compare decompression to going to a wedding,” says Dr. Klein. “You’ve just had a bunch of appetizers and perhaps you’ve eaten too much. But you still want to eat dinner. So, you open your belt. Decompression is the same idea. I open the belt to allow the nerves inside to expand.”
However, in some instances, the nerve is damaged beyond repair. In this case, doctors can use a microscope to open up the outer covering of a nerve and find the inner fascicles.
“The word fascicles is foreign to most people but everybody is familiar with telephone wire,” says Dr. Klein. “The outside of the telephone looks like a round wire, while the inside looks like hundreds of wires. Well, that’s what a nerve looks like.”
Now, with modern technology, these nerve bundles can be identified on a microscope and doctors can release some of the constrictions that occur. In addition, doctors have the unique ability to not only see if a segment of the nerve has been damaged, but to physically cut that segment out. These nerve grafts no longer need to sacrifice a healthy nerve. In fact, doctors can take a cadaver nerve that’s been treated – so it’s not going to cause you harm – and can sew that together using nerve grafts and nerve conduits.
By being able to see the physical damage and fix it through grafts and other procedures, many people who suffered from drop foot can go on to lead healthy, active lifestyles. With drop foot nerve regeneration, patients can get back on their feet in no time. In some cases, surgery is not required to remedy drop foot so it’s always best to chat with your doctor about the right treatment plan for you.