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Common Conditions

Foot Drop

25/09/2020

Foot Drop sometimes called Drop Foot is a general term for difficulty lifting the front part of the foot. If one has foot drop, the front of the foot might drag on the ground when walking. Foot drop is not a disease but a sign of an underlying neurological, muscular or anatomical problem. Sometimes foot drop is temporary but it can be permanent. Wearing a brace on the ankle and foot might be needed to hold the foot in a normal position.

There are several causes of foot drop. Foot drop is caused by weakness or paralysis of the muscles involved in lifting the front part of the foot. The most common cause of foot drop is compression of a nerve in the leg that controls the muscles involved in lifting the foot (peroneal nerve). This nerve can also be injured during hip or knee replacement surgery, which may cause foot drop. A nerve root injury in the spine can also cause foot drop. People who have diabetes are also more susceptible to nerve disorders which are associated with foot drop. Various forms of muscular dystrophy which is an inherited disease that causes progressive muscle weakness can contribute to foot drop. Lastly, brain and spinal cord disorders that affect the spinal cord or brain such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis or stroke may also cause foot drop.

Physical therapy can help with treating foot drop. Apart from manual therapy, a physical therapist will also prescribe specific exercises that strengthen the leg muscles and help maintain the range of motion in the knee and ankle, which will improve gait problems associated with foot drop. A brace for your ankle and foot or splint that fits into the shoe to help hold the foot in a normal position may be recommended as well. Depending upon the cause and if the foot drop is relatively new, nerve surgery might be helpful as stimulating the nerve that lifts the foot may also improve foot drop. If foot drop is long-standing, a surgery that fuses ankle or foot bones or a procedure that transfers a working tendon and attached muscle to a different part of the foot may be needed. If in doubt, seek professional advice.