What Is Foot Drop and How Is it Linked to Endometriosis?
Foot drop is the result of paralysis or muscle weakness at the front of the foot and toes. This makes the foot “drop” or drag when taking a step. People who experience this symptom might have trouble walking. Or they may find themselves tripping frequently, even when walking on level ground or on smooth floors.
What causes foot drop?
Foot drop is not a disease, but it can be a symptom of serious conditions, including endometriosis.
Although rare, endometrial lesions can form outside of the abdomen, for example in the lungs or around nerves. Endometriosis around the sciatic nerve is called sciatic endometriosis. The sciatic nerve is the large nerve that controls movement in the legs and transmits sensations from the legs to the spine and brain.
Case studies have reported endometrial lesions causing nerve pain in the legs and feet. In addition to pain and muscle weakness, patients had foot drop symptoms.
What might indicate my foot drop is caused by endometriosis?
Patients with endometriosis often find that their symptoms increase in severity before and during their period and last for several days after.
In sciatic endometriosis, the primary symptom is usually pain along the sciatic nerve that increases in severity during menstruation and may fade during the rest of the menstrual cycle. However, for many patients, these symptoms can become more severe and persistent over time.
For diagnostic workup of possible sciatic endometriosis, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), CT scan (computerized tomography), or ultrasound image may be necessary. Based on the imaging results, additional nerve tests or a nerve biopsy may also be necessary.
What are the treatment options?
The treatments for foot drop caused by endometriosis depend on the location and severity of the lesions and accompanying symptoms. Some patients may need a foot brace or other walking support such as a cane or walker to make walking easier. Some medications (such as hormone therapies) can help reduce the symptoms of endometriosis, but will not eliminate the endometrial lesions.
Surgery is the only way to remove endometrial lesions. Women who have had endometrial lesions removed from the sciatic nerve reported improved quality of life with greatly reduced pain immediately after surgery. However, some reported longer-term nerve problems. Any surgery carries risks. It is important to discuss the potential risks and benefits of surgery before the operation with one’s physician.
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