What is Foot Drop?

When a patient has difficulty lifting the front part of the foot, which is called foot drop or drop foot, it may cause them to drag their foot on the ground when they walk. Foot drop indicates an underlying neurological, muscular or anatomical problem. Surgery is often needed to correct foot drop.

What Are Common Causes and Symptoms of Foot Drop?

The peroneal nerve aids the muscles in the leg which lift the ankle and the toes upward. When it becomes compressed, it can cause foot drop.

“When the foot drops, you can’t lift your foot so it affects how you walk,” says Michael D. Riggenbach, M.D. “So, oftentimes we’ll hear a slapping sound as you step.”

Foot drop is a condition that can be caused by nerve compression in the back, a leg injury, trauma injury, sport injury or surgery

Symptoms of foot drop include:

  • Inability to point toes toward the body
  • Weakness
  • Loss of function in the foot
  • A dragging foot
  • Numbness in the top of the good and toes

What Are the Treatment Options for Foot Drop?

The treatment for foot drop will depend on what its underlying cause is. A patient may wear a brace or splint or undergo physical therapy. Sometimes, surgery is necessary to correct foot drop, especially if the foot drop is relatively new.

“Surgery is going to be performed to try and decompress the nerve, or release the pressure on the nerve, so that it can regain function,” Dr. Riggenbach says.

If that doesn’t work, a nerve transfer can be performed to try and restore function.

“These [treatments] all meant to restore the ability of your foot to elevate when you walk so you can take proper steps and stay active,” he adds.