Feet hit the Streets to Walk for Multiple Sclerosis

This past Saturday, the Walk MS event was held at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium. This walk for Multiple Sclerosis is held across the country each year to raise money towards working towards a cure for multiple sclerosis. While the first noticed symptoms of this disease typically involve vision, problems with the feet and legs frequently develop later on.

Multiple Sclerosis first presents in the age range of 20 – 40 in most cases. It involves the white matter of the brain and spinal cord, which is where myelin is located. Myelin is a substance that covers the portion of a nerve that transmits information. When this myelin is lost, information cannot be sent as effectively to and from processing centers in the brain. Because the pathways of neurologic information going to and from the foot are the longest in the body, the feet are frequently involved when damage occurs to the brain, spinal cord or peripheral nerves. In multiple sclerosis, the white matter is lost in specific areas in the brain, in the spinal cord and around the optic nerve, which controls vision.

The damage in the brain and spinal cord affect both sensation and muscle control in the foot and ankle. When information from the brain controlling motion cannot reach the leg and foot, reflexes are excessively responsive and muscles become both spastic and weak. Information regarding sensation and position of the foot cannot be sent up to the brain and be processed, so sense of position and protective sensation in the foot are diminished or lost.

Early treatment for multiple sclerosis and the problems it causes in the foot and ankle are imperative. Spasticity of muscles over time leads to contracture and foot deformity that can make functional ambulation difficult. Stretching, physical therapy and bracing may be beneficial in early disease where deformity has not yet become rigid. When spasticity has been present for long enough, deformities including claw toes and cavus foot type may be so rigid that foot surgery is required to release contractures of soft tissue holding the abnormal position. Muscle weakness, while typically mild compared to the symptoms of spasticity, can lead to the development of a foot drop. This makes normal ambulation challenging and causes the foot to drag on the ground at the point where it would normally lift up during gait. A variety of treatment options exist for a drop foot gait, most commonly used is the ankle foot orthosis, or AFO. Loss of sensation, similar to diabetic peripheral neuropathy, requires that individuals with this symptom of multiple sclerosis be extra vigilant with daily foot inspections and keeping their feet protected from injury. With the nearly $250,000 raised in Columbus this past weekend, individuals suffering from multiple sclerosis are hopefully one step closer towards a cure and improved treatment of multiple sclerosis and its effects in the foot.

Please visit www.ColumbusFoot.com for more information or call 614-885-3338 (FEET) to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus Podiatry & Surgery is located on the North side of Columbus, Ohio near Worthington.

Columbus Podiatry & Surgery has opened a new location in Gahanna, near Easton. Please call 614-476-3338 (FEET) for an appointment with a podiatrist in Gahanna, OH today.

By Dr. Animesh (Andy) Bhatia