Stiffness, drop foot and baclofen

Looking for advcice! I have right foot drop and my right leg becomes very stiff, espeially my ankle. Can anyone suggest something to help? I’ve thought of baclofen, but I’m scared that all my muscles relax and then I’ll be too ‘floppy’ to walk!

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Hi John,

Don’t be too scared to try something, in case it doesn’t work. If you don’t get on with baclofen, you don’t have to stay on it - simple as that - but seems a shame not to give it a try.

Not everyone has a problem with weakness/floppiness on baclofen - I never have. Perhaps it depends how stiff the muscles are to start with, but I find it helps restore some semblance of normality - it doesn’t make them go useless. Some people seem very dose-sensitve - i.e. a little helps, but a small increase can suddenly make things worse. Again, this is not something I’ve found. I’ve had to increase it a few times, since starting, but so far, it’s been well-tolerated at every dose, so you can’t judge 'til you try.

I’m not sure baclofen would do anything to help with foot drop, though. That’s probably better treated with physio, and/or some kind of orthotic. I was prescribed exercises for mine, and some of them were as simple as really concentrating when walking, mentally saying: “Heel down first, heel down FIRST”, with every step, until eventually, you train yourself to do what should come naturally. I’m not suggesting foot drop can be cured by willpower alone, but consciously focusing on doing it right can certainly help to correct bad habits.

Tina

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I have an FES (Functional Electrical Stimulator, I think) specifically to help with foot drop. This keeps the muscles which lift that part of your foot in reasonable shape. It helps me a lot, but does not help everyone. You can be prescribed one, if you see a NHS physio and can get to Salisbury to have it fitted. There is usually a very long waiting time for this. You can also get one prescribed privately by a neuro physio but they are expensive (£600+).

Alternatively, there are various structural bandages and splints that can stop your foot dropping - you will still be at risk of muscle wasting with these. Again, you would need to see a physio with a knowledge of MS to find out what is available.

Hi I have a FES I also have a step smart it works great it cost about £200 it’s American watch the clip on u tube or on there Web site http://insightfulproducts.com/buy/step-smart-for-drop-foot/ Hope this helps. Tony

I’m seeing a neuro-physiotherapist about my foot slap (early stages of foot drop). (I was disturbed by how weak my left ankle has become compared to my right one.) She’s going to give me an orthotic support for my ankle and is referring me to the QE hospital in Birmingham for to find out whether FES is appropriate. I have no idea when that appointment will come through.

As far as I’m concerned, I’ll take whatever I can get to help with this problem, although I’d prefer a non-medicinal treatment. Having said that, I suspect that an orthotic support will mean that I need new shoes to accommodate it. I had a look at some on Saturday (Velcro fastening because I can’t manage laces) and they’re not cheap - around £70! Still, it’s all relative. £70 isn’t much compared with £600 for private FES.

I’ve only seen the physio once and we haven’t discussed exercises yet. I have tried walking slowly, focusing on what my left foot is doing. I find it’s even more tiring, uncomfortable and eventually painful than just letting my foot do its own thing. But then, we’re all different. What’s right for one of us won’t necessarily work for someone else.

OK, so this is an old thread that is coming back to life.
It may not help the OP, but it may help some newbies …

I have a combination of orthotics and a FES.
The orthotics are firstly to help with flat feet.
One has the heel switch for the FES embedded in it (so it’s always in the right place).
The other has the heel built up by 1 cm, because that leg is that much shorter.

I am lucky, in that the orthotics come from Odstock Hospital.
The department is across the corridor from the FES clinic (very handy)
Memo to self - book a followup appointment for the next visit to Odstock.

Geoff

I have a SAFO- which is a silicone brace which has done wonders for my drop foot. I’ve tried the FES a couple of times and unfortunately it didn’t work for me. The SAFO cost around £700. My first one lasted 8 years, so for me it was money well spent. Very simple to use. Splash some talc on your foot. Put on the brace. Fasten three Velcro straps and that’s it for the day.

Hope you find something that works for you.

derek