What Is Foot Drop?

Foot drop, or drop foot as it’s also called, is pretty much what it sounds like. When you take a step, your foot falls or slaps against the ground. To avoid tripping, people with foot drop often lift their legs higher in the air before taking a step, creating a march-type gait. Others drag their feet, because they have difficulty picking them up between steps.

What causes foot drop?

Foot drop is not a disease in itself. Instead, it’s a symptom of another problem. There are several causes of foot drop, including problems with muscles, nerves, or the anatomy of the foot. Not all of foot drop’s causes are foot and ankle related, however. The cause of foot drop, for example, is sometimes in the back, where compressed nerves can cause weakness in the legs and feet. Another possible cause of foot drop is damage or compression of the nerve in your leg that controls your ability to lift your foot (called the peroneal nerve).

Can foot drop be treated?

If you notice foot drop symptoms, contact your healthcare provider right away for an evaluation. In some cases, foot drop is a sign of a worsening nerve-related condition. Getting treatment quickly, which sometimes includes surgery, can reverse foot drop symptoms.

If you’ve had symptoms for more than a few weeks, it may not be possible to reverse the condition completely. However, you should still get an evaluation right away. There are treatments that may help, including braces and physical therapy.

What else should I know?

If you have foot drop, your chances of tripping and falling are much higher than an average person’s. Clear clutter and move furniture to make sure you have wide walking pathways in your home or at work. Remove throw rugs for safety. Also, make sure you have a sturdy stair rail, and consider installing grab bars in your bathroom. Your doctor or physical therapist can suggest other ideas to reduce your fall risk.

Start your journey to optimal foot health. Find your foot and ankle expert, schedule an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a consultation.

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