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Drop Feet: Causes, Signs, Treatment & Prevention

In this article, we discuss the different causes, signs, treatment, and prevention tips for drop foot.

Drop Feet: Causes, Signs, Treatment & Prevention

Damage to the spinal cord can affect the nerves that control foot movement

The difficulty elevating the front of the foot is known as foot drop, sometimes known as drop foot. When you walk, the front of your foot may drag on the ground if you have foot drop. Foot drop is not an illness. Instead, it is a symptom of a deeper anatomical, muscular, or neurological issue. Continue reading as we discuss the different causes, signs, treatment, and prevention tips for drop foot.


1. Nerve damage

The most common cause of drop foot is damage to the peroneal nerve, which controls the muscles that lift the foot. This can occur due to injury, trauma, compression of the nerve, or medical conditions such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, or stroke.

2. Muscle or nerve disorders

Conditions such as muscular dystrophy, polio, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and peripheral neuropathy can lead to muscle weakness or nerve damage, resulting in drop foot.

3. Spinal cord injury

Damage to the spinal cord due to trauma or disease can affect the nerves that control foot movement, causing drop foot.

4. Brain and central nervous system disorders

Conditions like stroke, brain tumours, and multiple sclerosis can affect the brain's ability to send signals to the muscles, leading to drop foot.

5. Medications

Certain medications, such as those used for chemotherapy or treatment of HIV, can cause nerve damage and result in drop foot as a side effect.


  1. Difficulty lifting the front part of the foot while walking, causing the toes to drag on the ground.
  2. The affected person may lift their knee higher or swing their leg in an exaggerated manner to compensate for foot drop.
  3. Weakness or numbness in the foot or leg.
  4. Foot drop may cause instability while walking, increasing the risk of tripping or falling.
  5. Muscle atrophy or decreased muscle tone in the affected leg.


1. Foot brace or orthosis

A brace called an ankle-foot orthosis (AFO) can be used to support the foot and keep it in a neutral position while walking. This helps prevent dragging of the toes and provides stability.

2. Physical therapy

Exercises focusing on strengthening the leg and foot muscles can improve mobility and help compensate for drop foot. Stretching exercises can also help maintain flexibility.

3. Nerve stimulation

Functional electrical stimulation (FES) can be beneficial for some individuals. It involves delivering electrical impulses to the nerves that control foot movement, stimulating the muscles to lift the foot.

4. Medications

Medications like muscle relaxants or anti-inflammatory drugs can be prescribed to help manage pain or reduce muscle spasticity associated with drop foot.

Prevention Tips

  1. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent conditions like diabetes and peripheral neuropathy, reducing the risk of drop foot.
  2. Prevent activities or postures that put prolonged pressure on the nerves, such as crossing the legs or sitting in one position for a long time.
  3. Taking precautions to avoid falls, such as removing tripping hazards at home, using assistive devices like handrails or grab bars, and wearing proper footwear, can help prevent injuries and decrease the risk of drop foot.
  4. Addressing any underlying conditions or injuries that may affect the nerves or muscles as soon as possible can help prevent complications like drop foot.

It is important to consult with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and individualised treatment plan for drop foot.

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Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.


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