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Drop foot, is a condition with underlying muscular, neurological or anatomical abnormalities. The front part of the foot cannot be lifted, resulting in foot dragging. To avoid dragging the foot, the knees may be lifted higher than usual. causing the foot to slap on the ground every time a step forward is taken. It can affect one or both feet and may be temporary or permanent. Drop Foot may also produce numbness.


Drop Foot 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 drop foot.


Diagnosis is usually made by a physical examination for numbness and abnormal gait. Imaging studies may be ordered to identify any anatomic abnormalities such as overgrowths of bone or tumors that may be compressing the nerve. Nerve tests including electromyography and nerve conduction studies may be performed to examine the affected nerve and locate the area of damage.


Acute footdrop requires immediate attention. Treatment depends on the underlying cause. The doctor may suggest orthotics such as braces (AFO), splints and shoe inserts. Physical therapy may be ordered to strengthen the foot muscles and improve range of motion and gait. Nerve stimulation may also be recommended. The doctor may suggest surgery to repair the decompressed or damaged nerve. Successful identification and treatment of the underlying cause is essential to determine if the drop foot can improve. Chances of recovery are better with early intervention. Tendon transfers are an option for some patient who do not tolerate bracing. However, this is only done when the foot drop is permanent.

  • Athletic Orthopedics

    Athletic Orthopedics

    Athletic Orthopedics

    Athletic Orthopedics
    & Knee Center
    9180 Katy Freeway
    Suite 200
    Houston, TX 77055





    Monday – Friday: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Saturday & Sunday: Closed

    Monday – Thursday: 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM
    Friday: 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Saturday: 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM, Sunday: Closed