Treatment for foot drop depends on the underlying condition. Sometimes if that condition is treated, the foot drop may resolve itself. However, if this is a longer-term condition that can’t be resolved, surgery may be an option. The goal of foot drop surgery is to improve your ability to flex the foot and walk with a more normal gait.
Dr. Davis says “There are tendon transfers that can be done that will basically function like the other muscles did to lift your foot up.” A tendon transfer requires removing a working tendon from another part of the body to try to replace the malfunctioning tendon that causes the foot drop.
The procedure is called a posterior tibial tendon transfer. Surgeons can use a variety of methods to conduct this procedure, which typically takes about two hours. During the procedure, the patient undergoes anesthesia, while the surgical team carefully removes the tendon and replaces it with the transferred tendon.
Recovery from this procedure typically requires that your ankle be immobilized in a splint. In some cases, the tendon transfer can be done as a less-invasive outpatient procedure allowing the patient to go home on the same day as the surgery. Each patient is different, so work with your clinical provider to come up with the best treatment plan for your unique situation.
The typical recovery time from tendon replacement is a stepped down process that gradually allows the patient to become more weight-bearing over time. Typically, after surgery, elevation and non-weight-bearing activities happen for the first two weeks. At that time the stitches are removed but the foot and ankle are in a cast for another six weeks or so. After six weeks, the cast is removed and the patient can begin to walk with a special boot. Once the strength of the limb is improved, the boot can be removed and the patient can begin to walk normally without the brace.