Open Site Navigation
3d Ortho Pro logo

What is Foot Drop


What is Foot Drop

Foot drop is a condition that affects the leg, foot or ankle. It can be caused by many different things including nerve injury, muscle or nerve disorders and brain and spinal cord disorders. Symptoms can be painful in the affected area, difficulty walking or standing up from sitting down for long periods of time. Foot drop is most often diagnosed with an examination.


If you have trouble lifting your heel off the ground then you may have foot drop.

What Causes Foot Drop?


Foot drop can be caused by many things. The most common cause is nerve injury to the leg, foot or ankle that may come from an accident or other trauma to the area.


Other common causes of foot drop may include:


Nerve Injury


The most frequent reason for foot drop is compression of a nerve in your leg that controls the muscles involved with raising the foot (peroneal nerve).


Foot drop can also result from a spinal nerve injury, "pinched nerve," in the spine. People who have diabetes are more likely to develop nerve damage in their legs and feet.


Muscle Weakness or Nerve Disorders


Foot drop can be caused by a wide variety of muscular dystrophy types, which are an inherited disease that causes muscle weakness over time. Polio is another example of what causes foot drop.


Brain and Spinal Cord Disorders


Foot drop can be caused by diseases of the spinal cord or brain, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis, or stroke.


Diagnosing Foot Drop


Your doctor will want to know what makes foot drop worse, what happened before it started and what other symptoms you have. Your doctor may also ask if there are any family members who have had similar conditions or problems in the past.


A physical exam will be done to see what is causing the foot drop and what other problems may exist that could cause it as well. The doctor can do this by checking how you walk, move your leg muscles and test reflexes in different parts of the body such as knee jerks or ankle jerks. You may also get an electromyogram (EMG) to see what messages are being sent from the muscles in your leg and ankle.


Living with or Managing Foot Drop


If foot drop is caused by an injury, then it will need to be treated. This could include wearing a ankle foot brace/orthoses or splint on the affected leg and using crutches temporarily while you recover. Pain management can help with what causes pain in your feet as well.


If what causes foot drop is damage to the nerve, your doctor may prescribe you certain medications that can help with pain and other symptoms. Physical therapy may be needed to strengthen what are weakened muscles in the leg or ankle.


There are also many braces available for people who have what is called “drop foot” which helps them lift their foot when what is needed. If what causes foot drop are neurological disorders, then you will need to see your doctor regularly for check-ups and changes in medications if necessary.


Using a Ankle-foot brace or Splint

Piro AFO ankle foot orthoses

Using an ankle foot brace/orthoses or splint for foot drop can help prevent further damage to the foot. It can also help you walk better and even run if what causes weak muscles in your ankles or feet.


The brace will hold up what is affecting the ankle, so that it does not come down as far when you take a step forward. This prevents what makes the foot too much and what is happening to the muscles in your foot and ankle.


A foot drop is a medical condition that occurs when one or more of the nerve roots to the spinal cord are compressed. The compression on these nerves cause muscles in your feet and toes to not function properly, which results in an inability to raise your foot at all times during walking (toe-off). Foot drop usually only affects one side of the body; how