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About Foot Drop

Foot drop is the difficulty or inability to lift the front portion of one or both feet (dorsiflexion) and the limited movement of the foot at the ankle inward or outward.  Foot drop is caused by a neurological/muscular condition or injury causing paralysis or weakened muscles affecting the function of the foot.  Due to muscle weakness/paralysis, the foot tends to rotate inward, taking on an inverted position requiring eversion support.  Pain, weakness, numbness, muscle cramps and electrical nerve spasms may accompany loss of function.  Walking, balance and activities can be greatly affected.  When walking, steppage gait results where the knee is lifted higher than normally necessary to avoid tripping over the toes and swinging the affected leg out to the side may also occur to avoid catching the side of the foot on the floor.

Some type of brace and or support is typically recommended to overcome the resultant gait, however, not always desired.  Without wearing any type of brace, mobility is greatly decreased, tripping/falling hazards are present and, over time, compensatory walking patterns can cause back, hip, knee, ankle, and foot issues and injuries.  Foot drop severity varies from mild, where the toes may be able to be partially lifted to severe where there is no lift at all.  If the foot drop is due to injury, there is a possibility of improvement within the first year, however, many people live with this condition permanently.

Common Causes of Foot Drop 

Foot drop is one of the many medically distinguishable conditions that results from nerve injury, nerve/muscle disorder or brain/spinal cord disorders caused by certain diseases, physical trauma, repetitive injury, infection or drug toxicity.  Here is a list of some of the conditions known to cause foot drop:

  • ALS
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Charcot Marie Tooth Disease
  • Child Birth
  • Diabetes
  • Drug Toxicity (Some: anti-alcohol drugs, anticonvulsants, cancer medications, heart or blood pressure medications, infection fighting drugs, skin condition treatment drugs.)
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome
  • Injuries/Surgery (back, knee, ankle, etc.)
  • Lyme Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Parkinsons Disease
  • Polio
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Stroke