The Dallas Cowboys recently drafted former Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith late in the second round. Once a star player, his initial draft appeal plummeted after he suffered a knee injury with nerve damage while playing in the Fiesta Bowl. Now, it seems, the news for Smith and the Cowboys is only getting worse: it appears that, as a result of the nerve damage stemming from his original injury, Smith is now suffering from a condition known as ‘drop foot,’ which leaves him without feeling in his lower leg and foot, making it difficult to even pick up that foot, let alone play in an NFL game.
When Smith was first drafted, the Cowboys’ team doctor operated on his knee and hopes were high that he would make an appearance on the field next season. Now, with news of his drop foot development, it seems unlikely that Smith will step foot on the field in 2016.
Drop foot (or foot drop) is a relatively obscure condition, characterized by a loss of sensation and an inability to lift the front part of the foot. Foot drop can develop for a number of different reasons, but one of the more likely causes is nerve damage (as is the case for Smith). The condition can be treated in a variety of ways, including braces, custom orthotics, physical therapy and, in some cases, surgery.
While drop foot is a rare condition, I see patients experiencing loss of sensation in their feet due to nerve damage on a daily basis. Typically, these patients are diabetics who have developed peripheral neuropathy, which can cause painful tingling and decreased blood flow in addition to loss of sensation.Losing feeling (or experiencing unwanted sensations) in your feet can be very scary, not to mention debilitating. In my Houston podiatry practice, I offer several different treatment options to help minimize or reverse the effects of peripheral neuropathy. If, like Jaylon Smith, you are experiencing the discomfort of decreased sensation in your feet, schedule an appointment with Dr. Andrew Schneider immediately. You don’t have to live with this pain for another day!