What is a Drop Foot?

Drop foot, also called foot drop, is when it’s hard to lift the front part of the foot. This can be temporary or permanent, and usually affects only one foot.
Weakness or paralysis of the muscles that lift the foot causes drop foot. The weakness or paralysis is from a problem like:

What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Drop Foot?

The most common symptom of drop foot is raising the thigh when walking, like when climbing stairs. Other symptoms are:

  • Dragging the foot and toes when walking.
  • Scrapping or slapping the toes against the ground.
  • Numbness on the top of the foot and toes.

What Are the Treatments for Drop Foot?

Treatment depends on the cause of the drop foot. Successfully treating the cause can improve or cure drop foot. But if the cause can’t be treated, drop foot may be permanent.

Treatments include:

  • A brace or splint on the ankle and foot to hold your foot in a normal position. This is the most common treatment.
  • Physical therapy, including stretching, to strengthen the leg muscles, help you move your knee and ankle, and prevent stiffness.
  • Nerve stimulation, using an electronic device to help correct the way your foot moves when walking.
  • Surgery, which depends on the cause of drop foot:
    • For a new drop foot from a nerve injury, surgery can repair the damaged nerve or give it more space.
    • For a permanent drop foot, surgery to fuse (”weld” together) the foot and ankle joint or to transfer tendons from stronger muscles can help improve walking and make the foot more stable.