Foot Drop: Symptoms and Treatments

Foot drop is a term used to describe difficulty raising your foot upwards (dorsiflexion). This may be most noticeable when trying to walk as people with foot drop often complain of tripping and dragging their foot. Foot drop can be caused by a number of underlying neurological problems and should be evaluated by your physician.

Symptoms may include:

  • Difficultly lifting front part of foot
  • Foot may drag on floor when walking or cause frequent falls
  • Steppage gait- raising foot very high when walking to avoid dragging foot on the ground
  • Slapping of the foot while walking
  • Numbness on top of foot and toes
  • May or may not be associated with Sciatica. If so may have pain down the leg radiating from from the back down towards the foot.


Foot drop is caused by weakness or paralysis of the muscles involved in lifting the front part of the foot. The underlying causes of foot drop are varied and may include:

  • Herniated disc with pressure on the lumbar nerves
  • Peroneal nerve injury, compression or tumor
  • Other nerve and muscular disorders
  • Brain and spinal cord lesions
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Metabolic causes


  • Requires careful history and physical examination by a neurological expert
  • MRI imaging and electro diagnostic testing often needed as well


  • Treatment will vary depending on the underlying cause. If nerve compression by a herniated disk or other pathology, then surgery is often indicated.

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