Foot Drop

Foot drop is a sign of an underlying problem rather than a condition itself.

Foot drop can result from muscular weakness or paralysis making it difficult or impossible to lift the front part of your foot and toes, causing the toes to drag on the floor when walking.

foot drop

Causes of can be muscular, nerve damage in the leg, brain or spinal injury or a neurological condition that affect the spinal cord or brain including herniated disc, multiple sclerosis, stroke, Parkinson’s or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), where it is often associated with head drop.

It usually only affects one foot, but both feet can be affected depending on the cause and it can be temporary or permanent. Drop foot can cause raising of the thigh when walking, like climbing stairs to help clear the floor, which might cause slapping the foot down on the floor with each step.

Common Symptoms

  • Foot and toes dragging
  • Exaggerated hip swinging motion
  • Limpness, tingling, numbness, and/or slight pain in the foot
  • Muscle atrophy in the leg

Foot Drop Braces

If you have drop foot, you might need to wear a brace to hold your foot in a normal position, provide additional support, stability, and shock absorption. They are frequently prescribed to improve deviation, normalize walking patterns, and for protection. Due to abnormal movement of knee and hip hike to compensate, reduction of toe clearance is important and is a major cause of falls.

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You may need to consider drop foot braces if you have difficulty with foot clearance after stroke and/or stance control that affects walking. A brace is for stroke, neurologic disorders, and nerve injury patients. The brace maintains foot dorsiflexion and can provide foot stability to improve mobility for everyday activities.

The main function of the brace is to keep the foot and ankle from dropping and inverting. With an appropriate ergonomic design, braces help individuals walk more naturally and assist with lifting the toes and keeping the ankle in alignment.

Most Common Cause

The most common cause of foot drop is compression of a the peroneal nerve in your leg that controls the muscles in lifting the foot. It can be injured during hip or knee replacement surgery. A nerve root injury or pinched nerve in the spine can also cause this condition and individuals who have diabetes are more susceptible to nerve disorders.

Activities that compress the nerve can increase your risk. Habitual crossing of the legs can compress the peroneal nerve on their uppermost, as well as occupations that involve prolonged squatting or kneeling.

Other Treatments For Foot Drop

Physical therapy: Leg strengthening exercises can help you maintain range of motion in your knee and ankle may improve gait problems. Stretching exercises are often implemented to prevent the stiffness in the heel.

Nerve stimulation: Sometimes stimulating the nerve that lifts the foot improves the condition. Electrical stimulation electrodes send impulses to cause the nerves in the lower leg to shorten, which helps lift the leg.

Surgery: Depending upon the cause, surgery might be helpful directed at the nerve or surgery that fuses ankle or foot bones. However, most cases can usually be treated with a combination of non-intrusive techniques.


Most people will fully recover from foot drop, however, some causes from a more serious condition may never recover fully from the condition. If you are having trouble moving your feet, or you notice that you are adjusting the way you walk in order to avoid dragging your toes, contact your doctor.

For more information, please visit the National Foot Drop Society

Author Bio

Stephen Ornstein, D.C. has treated thousands of neck, shoulder and back conditions since graduating Sherman Chiropractic College in 1987 and during his involvement in Martial Arts. He holds certifications as a Peer Review Consultant from New York Chiropractic College, Physiological Therapeutics from National Chiropractic College, Modic Antibiotic Spinal Therapy from Dr. Hanne Albert, PT., MPH., Ph.D., Myofascial Release Techniques from Logan Chiropractic College, and learned Active Release Technique from the founder, P. Michael Leahy, DC, ART, CCSP.