Foot drop, sometimes called “drop foot,” is the inability to lift the front part of the foot, causing the foot to drag when walking or moving. Foot drop is not a disease and can be temporary or permanent.

The disorder stems from weakness or paralysis of the muscles, nerve injury in the leg or back, peripheral neuropathies such as diabetes and Charcot Marie Tooth disease, and brain or spinal disorders such as stroke, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy. Foot drop may involve one or both feet.

The symptoms include:

  • Difficulty lifting the front of the foot off the floor
  • Dragging the foot when walking
  • Tingling, numbness, and slight pain in the foot
  • Inability to walk normally in a heel-to-toe manner
  • Raising the leg while walking, as if climbing stairs (steppage gait)
  • Muscle atrophy in the leg

Treatment at Lancaster Orthopedic Group for foot drop will depend on the underlying cause. Many people with foot drop can recover full function following conservative treatment that includes physical therapy, medication and possible use of a brace (orthotic) worn on the ankle and foot to hold the foot in the normal position. Surgery may be necessary if there is nerve compression or a tendon rupture.