Foot drop, also known as peroneal nerve palsy, occurs when a patient loses the ability to lift the front part of the foot, leading the toes to drag along the ground while walking. It is caused by a peroneal nerve injury – a branch of the sciatic nerve. Foot drop can happen to one foot or both feet at the same time. It can strike at any age.
Causes of foot drop include nerve injury, brain or spinal disorders, and muscle disorder. Treatment for foot drop varies depending on the causes, namely, lightweight braces used to support the leg, physical therapy to strengthen foot and leg muscles, and surgery to repair or decompress a damaged nerve. In addition to these therapies, acupuncture has proven to be effective on patients with foot drop.
In a clinical report, a study was carried out in China to explore the effective therapy for foot drop. Twenty-four patients with foot drop were treated with acupuncture for ten days (one course a day). The result showed that all the patients had improvements after receiving one to four courses of acupuncture.
Hao J. et al. conducted another clinical study about the effectiveness of acupuncture on patients with peripheral nerve injury. The participants were divided into two groups. The first group received electric acupuncture. The second group was treated with supportive medication. The result demonstrated that the improvement in the acupuncture group was significantly better than in the supportive group. Also, those who had common peroneal nerve injuries recovered faster than others.
Similarly, acupuncture has shown to be effective in patients with foot drop caused by a stroke according to another study published in “Chinese Acupuncture & Moxibustion.”
- Chinese Acupuncture & Moxibustion. 2012-04. Effect of muscle-tension-balance acupuncture therapy on the motor function and living ability of patients with drop foot and strephenopodia after stroke. LIU Zhao-ping, ZENG Man-ping, XIE Hui, LOU Bi-dan, ZHANG Wei.
- Hao J., Zhao C., Cao S., Yang S. Electric acupuncture treatment of peripheral nerve injury. J Tradit Chin Med. 1995 Jun;15(2):114-7.
- Shu-xiang BAI. Acupuncture for 24 cases of peroneal nerve palsy. World Journal of Acupuncture. Volume 22, Issue 3, 30 September 2012, Pages 55-56.