A case study was published on February 11, 2019, in the Journal of Contemporary Chiropractic that highlighted the case of a man suffering with foot drop and foot numbness being helped by chiropractic. Foot drop happens when a person is unable to lift the top of their foot upward causing it to drop down as if pointing their toes.
Typically, foot drop is accompanied by a numbness in the top side of the foot. The study notes that the common peroneal nerve is often the source of the dysfunction that then results in the muscles controlled by this nerve being unable to flex the foot upward.
The common peroneal nerve is a branch from the sciatic nerve. A dysfunction in either the common peroneal nerve or the sciatic nerve or the origin of the sciatic at the spine can create foot drop without there being any pain in the nerves that feed the muscles for the top of the foot.
In this case, a 61-year-old man sought care at a hospital-based chiropractic clinic. His chief complaint was right-sided foot drop. His problem began 9 days prior to his chiropractic visit. As described by the study, his symptoms began “following 3 days of sitting in his canoe with the right lateral aspect of his leg resting against the gunnel of the canoe.” The man had been sitting on a canoe for three hours each day over the course of three days. By the end of the third day, he had problems walking up a hill as his foot would not flex properly.
Upon arriving home an hour later, he noticed he had lost some feeling on the top of his right foot, as well as being unable to flex his foot upward at all. He went to his medical doctor who did not prescribe or render any treatment other than to tell the man to wait ten days to see how he was doing. After nine days with no improvement, the man decided to seek chiropractic care.
A physical and chiropractic examination was performed which confirmed the loss of sensation and feeling on the top side of his right foot. Chiropractic care was started with the man being seen twice a week for the first three weeks, followed by once a week visits. In addition, the man also received physical therapy in the hospital setting.
In the discussion, the authors of this study provided an overview by stating, “Our patient initially presented to his primary care physician, who told him to monitor his condition for any changes; there was no treatment provided, no recommendations for palliative care and minimal discussion related to his condition. Still seeking answers, the patient came to the chiropractic office on a self-referral, where a complete and comprehensive physical exam was performed, and a treatment program was implemented.”
As a result of his care, the study reports that the man continued to improve with both his ability to upwardly flex his right foot as well as an increase in sensation and feeling in his foot. By the 11th week, the man had completely regained the function of his right foot and no longer had a loss of sensation or feeling.