Foot Drop: When Feet Feel Weak and Toes Drag

“Dragging your feet” is a saying that means you are purposefully taking a long time to do something, but sometimes, this action isn’t purposeful at all! Drop foot, also known as foot drop, is a condition characterized by weakness in the foot which makes taking a step difficult and can even cause you to involuntarily drag your toes. In this case, dragging your feet is far from just an old saying – it’s actually a symptom of a deeper, underlying problem or injury affecting muscles and nerves.

What are the Symptoms of Foot Drop?

Foot InjuryWith this condition, your foot becomes weakened, and sometimes even paralyzed, making it difficult to perform the forward moving action of taking a step. Because it is hard to lift the foot off the ground, you end up dragging your toes when you walk. To avoid this, you might compensate by raising your knee higher as if you were going up stairs, or swinging your leg forward. These alterations of your gait can then cause you to slap the front of your foot down. The skin on top of your foot may also feel numb. Typically drop foot occurs in one foot, but can at times affect both feet. The key to treating this condition is determining its underlying cause.

What are the Causes of this Condition?

There are a variety of reasons for foot drop to occur, which is why it’s so important to have your foot assessed as soon as any of the above symptoms are noticed. Causes fall into three main categories: nerve injuries, muscle disorders, and neurological disorders.

  • Nerve Injuries – this is the most common culprit. The nerves in your foot that control muscle movement can become compressed, or pinched, due to an injury or hip or knee replacement surgery. Nerve damage can also be attributed to conditions like diabetes, or even simply sitting with legs crossed too long or having a leg cast on for an extended period of time.
  • Muscle disorders – muscular dystrophy, polio, and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease are all examples of conditions that affect your muscles and their function, which can lead to drop foot.
  • Neurological disorders – conditions that affect the brain and spinal cord can also result in foot drop. These may include ALS, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, or stroke.

As you can see, some causes for drop foot can be quite serious and important to address, so symptoms should never be ignored!

How is Drop Foot Treated?

Treatments vary according to cause, but all cases start with addressing the underlying problem. Additional treatments typically include:

  • Braces/splints/orthotics – these devices can hold the foot in proper position and provide support when walking.
  • Physical therapy – exercises to strengthen muscles and help range of motion can improve gait and avoid stiffness that can sometimes result from this condition.
  • Nerve Stimulation – therapies to stimulate the repair and regeneration of nerves can help improve nerve health and thus foot drop symptoms.
  • Nerve surgery – if all other measures are unsuccessful in providing relief, a surgical procedure to release the nerve may be considered.

If you are struggling with taking steps because your foot feels weak, don’t delay – take this step right away: Call our Bloomington, IN office for an appointment at (812) 333-4422, so you can get the treatment you need to walk without dragging your toes.

Foot Drop Patient Testimonials

Drop Foot: Pre & Post-Surgery

Aaron Smith testimonial“On November 30, 2012, I injured my ankle while at work in an underground coal mine. I encountered pain as I tried to walk and lost movement in my ankle and toes. After being sent to Dr. Powers, he was able to do surgery to get me back on my feet and walking normal. This was vital, since I was engaged and set to be married in just a few short months. After the surgery in February 2013, I was able to walk hand in hand with my wife at our ocean front wedding in Ponce, Inlet Florida on March 26, 2013. This would not have been possible without the excellent work of Dr. Powers. My wife, Ashley, and I greatly appreciate Dr. Powers and his staff as they treated us like family at every visit.”

Successful Foot Drop Surgery:

Results of Successful Foot Drop Surgery

Unable to Move Foot Up and Down