Foot drop or foot drop: symptoms, causes & treatment

Foot drop or foot drop can occur suddenly and take the patient by surprise. The most noticeable symptom is a difficult, stiff walking movement also called “cock walking”. Weakness of the foot extensor muscles will make it difficult for you to lift the front part of the foot and your toes. A pinched nerve or a hernia is often the cause of foot drop. An efficient treatment for foot drop consists of wearing a foot drop brace. What are the causes of foot drop and what are the specific symptoms?

What is foot drop?

Foot drop is the phenomenon in which the front part of the foot cannot be lifted sufficiently. This causes the foot to hit the ground roughly and makes it difficult to walk smoothly. It concerns a paralysis of the foot extensor muscles: these are the muscles that lift the forefoot and toes when walking. Drop foot is also called drop foot , because the foot, as it were, “falls” or “drops” on the ground when walking. This can cause the so-called cock tread .

Symptoms of drop foot

The most noticeable symptom of foot drop is a difficult, stiff walking movement. The drop foot seems to fall or flop on the ground, as it were. This may cause you difficulty walking over an uneven surface, such as an uneven sidewalk for example. A possible consequence is that the patient becomes more uncertain in his walking movement and therefore increases the risk of additional symptoms of pain in the foot due to overload and a dull, tingling feeling in the foot. An ankle sprain can also be the result of difficult, unnatural walking movements caused by foot drop.

Drop foot or drop foot (right) / Source: Pagemaker787, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-4.0)

Causes of foot drop

The cause of foot drop or foot drop is a fibular nerve (medical term: peroneal nerve) that has become pinched. This entrapment can occur in various cases, such as sitting with the knees bent for a long time, being confined to the bed for a long time or sitting still with your legs crossed. Furthermore, back problems such as hernia or a stenosis of the fifth lumbar vertebra (L5) can also be the basis of drop foot. Finally, people with neurological disorders can also suffer from foot drop.

Foot drop treatment and tips

Body position

The treatment of foot drop is primarily by removing the cause. Direct pressure on the nerve should be avoided as much as possible. Adjusting your posture during your daily activities can provide relief. Do not forget to stretch your legs regularly and not to hinder blood circulation due to poor sitting posture.

Shoes

Furthermore, it can also be useful for people with foot drop to do certain exercises. Some examples of this are: such as walking on your heels or pulling up your toes while supporting yourself on your heels. Wearing appropriate footwear is also important: it is better to wear flat shoes or shoes that reach the ankles to avoid spraining the ankle. You can usually heal from foot drop after a few weeks or months.

Tip: foot drop brace

To treat drop foot, you can also apply a brace to the foot specially developed for this condition. This gives your foot better support and you can enjoy better foot stability when walking. Drop foot braces are available in different sizes and increase the comfort of the foot, which reduces the risk of additional problems, such as foot pain or ankle sprain.
Some examples of foot drop braces:

  • Ă–ssur foot drop brace
  • Orliman Boxia Clubfoot Orthosis
  • Peroneal spring Super Ortho