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Parkinson's Disease

Drop foot related to Parkinson`s disease?

06/12/2006

Question:

i seem to have drop foot....difficulty in making my foot andankle work proerly....heel to toe normal. I have been diagnosedwith Parkinson`s disease recently. Will the el-dopa type medications for PD give me relief from the drop foot?

thanks

Answer:

Though I cannot give advice regarding your medical findings directly (this is something that needs to be evaluated by your physician to determine the exact cause), there are reasons why persons with Parkinson's disease might experience the feeling of a "foot drop".  Parkinson's disease  is an asymmetrical disease and the side that is more involved will have rigidity and bradykinesia (slowness of movement).  Together, these features often give the patient a sensation of "weakness" or heaviness in the affected limb.  

In the lower extremity, scuffing of the foot, stubbing the toe and tripping over steps or curbs is common.  When tested directly for strength deficits, however, none are found.  It is a "mismatch" between the signalling in the brain for movement and the response by the extremity.  These symptoms should be thoroughly investigated by a neurologist, however, as true foot drop (weakness of ankle dorsiflexion) can occur for other reasons, such as a peripheral nerve problem.  This would be unrelated to Parkinson's disease. 

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Response by:

Karen M Thomas, DO Karen M Thomas, DO
Formerly:
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University