Workers compensation lumbar radiculopathy drop foot or foot drop affects the foot but can come from a low back nerve injury.  Weakness of the tibialis anterior muscle can cause the foot to drag when walking. The tibialis anterior picks the ankle up and pulls the foot toward the face.  Most commonly, foot drop is caused by an injury to the peroneal nerve. The peroneal nerve is a branch of the sciatic nerve that wraps from the back of the knee to the front of the shin.  Nerve impingement of the sciatic nerve as it leaves the low back can result in symptoms down in the peroneal nerve resulting in drop foot.

Drop foot can be work-related if caused by a job related condition of the lumbar spine such as disc herniation or spinal stenosis.  Also, if a person has work-related low back surgery such as a laminectomy or fusion and then has drop foot symptoms, that may constitute a separate work-related worker’s compensation injury.  An honest, trustworthy and open communication with the doctor or surgeon will present the best chance for successful treatment.

A person with drop foot drags the toes when walking causing tripping and falls. Sometimes patients change the way they walk to overcome this problem. The person lifts the knee higher to clear the toes as the foot moves forward.  Drop foot from degenerative lumbar disorders can be a major problem. Drop foot is caused by pressure on the spinal nerve as it leaves the spinal cord in the low back area. When the nerve is impaired, muscle weakness occurs.  Drop foot is usually associated with other sciatic radicular symptoms such as aching, throbbing, or stabbing pain and is commonly located in the back or outside of the thigh and in the calf or shin region of the lower leg. The pattern of complaints depends on the specific spinal nerve involved since each nerve supplies specific areas of skin and muscles within the lower extremity.

Treatment for drop foot includes lightweight braces and shoe inserts (orthotics) used to support the leg.  Physical therapy is used to strengthen foot and leg muscles. It may improve a person’s ability to walk. In some cases, electronic devices that stimulate the leg nerves during walking may be appropriate.  Surgery may be recommended to try to repair or decompress a damaged nerve.

Workers compensation lumbar radiculopathy drop foot is a serious condition that can cause significant workers compensation disability and benefits.  The question becomes is it a scheduled or unscheduled worker’s compensation injury.  At McCormick Law Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin our attorneys would get the best results in workers compensation benefits by arguing it is an unscheduled injury.