Foot drop, which is also called “drop foot,” is a condition in which you are unable to lift the front part of your foot. This condition makes it so that the front of your foot drags along the ground as you walk, which can cause you to trip and fall. This condition occurs irrespective of age, and it can occur in one foot or both feet. People who have foot drop generally lift the affected foot higher above the ground as they walk, which results in a type of walk called “steppage gait.”
This condition is usually caused by damage to the peroneal nerve, which is a branch of the sciatic nerve that runs from the back of the knee to the front of the shin. Since this nerve is close to the skin, it is prone to damage, and common sources of damage to the peroneal nerve include diabetes, sports injuries, and childbirth. Foot drop may also be caused by spinal or brain disorders such as multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy, or stroke. In addition, this condition is sometimes caused by muscle disorders like muscular dystrophy.
Foot drop is easy to visually identify, and it can usually be diagnosed in the course of a routine physical exam. However, your doctor may employ an electromyography (EMG) scan to ensure that your condition is caused by nerve damage.
People who have foot drop generally respond well to physical therapy. Our skilled therapists use treatments which include Russian stimulation, stretching and strengthening exercises, neuromuscular re-education, gait and balance training. As physical therapy techniques are employed, patients with foot drop may also want to use lightweight leg braces and shoe inserts called ankle-foot orthotics. In extreme cases, surgery is sometimes performed to treat this condition.