Foot drop, also sometimes referred to as drop foot, is a condition in which a patient has difficulty raising or lifting the front part of the foot. Foot drop may result in a patient dragging their foot. It can affect the way a patient walks, forcing them to lift their knee higher than normal or swing their leg to the side in order to keep the foot from dragging.
Foot drop can affect one or both feet at the same time. It can be temporary or permanent and can happen at any age.
Foot drop is generally caused by an underlying neurological or muscular issue, such as a weakness or paralysis of the muscles that lift the foot. This can be the result of a nerve injury or a type of nerve, brain or muscle disorder.
Foot drop is a symptom of an underlying condition, and not a disease itself. Patients with foot drop may experience a lack of mobility with the afflicted foot and will have difficulty with typical movement, such as walking.
Diagnosis of foot drop typically begins with a physical examination. Your doctor may ask you to walk while examining your muscles for weakness.
In some cases, further testing and imaging may be required, including:
• CT scan (computerized tomography)
• MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
• Nerve tests
Treatment of foot drop may depend on the underlying cause. If the underlying cause can be treated, foot drop may improve or disappear completely. If the underlying cause cannot be treated, doctors typically begin with non-surgical treatments, including braces and splints, physical therapy and nerve stimulation.
In more severe or permanent cases, surgery may be required to improve the symptoms of foot drop. The doctors of The Institute for Foot and Ankle Reconstruction at Mercy will help patients determine if surgery is the best treatment plan for their condition.