Ronald W. Smith, M.D.

Effects of Stroke

stroke3 I.      Definition:  A stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel or artery, or when a blood vessel breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. As a result, a stroke patient may lose control of the functions controlled by the specific area of the brain. The impaired functions may include speech, memory, and/or skeleto-muscular movement. Recovering stroke patients can suffer from a number of foot conditions, affecting the appearance of the foot and their ability to walk or stand. Equinovarus is a common posture resulting from stroke. In this condition, the foot is turned in, stiff, cannot be brought to a normal position, and lacks normal motion.

II.      Cause:  pasticity, or uncontrollable muscle tightness, is a common effect of a stroke. This tightness can occur in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons of the foot. It causes the foot to contract and curl into an equinovarus deformity, often with curling of the toes.

III.      Treatment and Prevention:  Physical therapy is often effective in treating spasticity of the foot. Proper stretching techniques can loosen the muscles of the foot, allowing it to regain normal shape and flexibility. Braces and corrective casts may be used as a more aggressive form of releasing the tightness of the foot. In some cases, surgery may be required release or transfer muscles to improve foot posture and sometimes reduce the pain of spasm in the toes.

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