Foot drop also known as drop foot, is a sign of an underlying muscular, neurological or anatomical condition, where you are unable to lift the front part of your foot, resulting in difficulty walking. Foot drop may also be associated with foot numbness. It can affect one or both feet and may be temporary or permanent.
Foot drop is caused by weakness or paralysis of the muscles of the foot. Damage or compression of the nerve that supplies the foot muscles, or diseases of the muscles or nerves (muscular dystrophy and polio), brain or spinal cord (stroke and multiple sclerosis) may lead to foot drop.
Diagnosis is usually made with a physical examination. Imaging studies may be ordered to identify any anatomic abnormalities such as overgrowths of bone or tumors that may becompressing the nerve. Nerve tests including electromyography and nerve conduction studies may be performed to evaluate the affected nerve and locate the area of damage.
Treatment depends on the underlying cause. Your doctor may suggest orthotics such as braces, splints and shoe inserts. Physical therapy may be ordered to strengthen the foot muscles, and improve range of motion and gait.