Drop Foot

Drop Foot Overview

Drop foot is when it is difficult to lift the front of the foot, this can create difficulty when walking, where your foot will drag along the floor. This may cause you to lift your foot higher to compensate and avoid sliding along the floor.

Due to the nature of foot drop it will change your gait, which can cause you to slap your foot down with each step and create a numb feeling to your toes.

Drop Foot Symptoms and Diagnosis

There are several signs and symptoms of Drop Foot that can help diagnose this issue, including:

  • Weakness of the foot muscles can lead to frequent tripping and falls
  • The foot may be limp and flop to the side of the body – this can often make it difficult to climb stairs
  • The foot may be numb
  • Drop Foot often affects only one side, especially when caused by a pinched nerve in the back or leg
    To prevent the toes from hitting the ground or tripping you may adapt your gait, typically this will be either:
  • High Gait – where the leg is raised exaggeratedly to clear the foot of the ground
  • Semi-circle Gait – where the leg is kept straight but swings to the side in a semicircle

Drop Foot Causes

Foot Drop is caused by weakness or paralysis of the muscles that lift the foot. These may be caused by:

  • Nerve injury where a nerve in your leg that controls the muscles and lift your foot are compressed
  • Nerve injury where you have a pinched nerve in your spine.
  • Inherited muscular dystrophy
  • Brain and spinal cord disorders

If you find that your foot is dragging along the floor whilst walking then consult with your specialist. An MRI may be carried out to assess the underlying cause.

Drop Foot Treatment and Prevention

Ankle-foot brace or splint

Following a gait analysis and possible MRI your specialist may suggest an ankle foot orthosis (AFO). The custom brace helps control the position and motion of your ankle, as well as support weakened limbs.

Surgical Options

To find out more on surgical options to assist with flat foot caused by muscular dystrophy please click here. If the underlying cause is due to a nerve injury or brain/ spinal disorder then a neurologist or neurosurgeon may be suggested.