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What is Foot drop?

Foot drop is when the foot cannot be cleared off the ground during walking. A drop foot is due to either weakness of the muscles needed to lift the foot, or tightness in the calf muscles. A person with foot drop may have difficulty in walking and may be at risk of falling.

What causes foot drop?

A drop foot is a symptom of an underlying cause and can be divided into three general categories; neurological, muscular, and anatomical.

Physiotherapist fitting an ankle orthotic to prevent foot drop during mobilisationAbove: Physiotherapist fitting an ankle orthotic to prevent foot drop during mobilisation

The common causes associated with a drop foot which include:
  • Peripheral nerve injuries
  • Stroke
  • Drug toxicities
  • Diabetes
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease

What are the effects of foot drop?

People with a drop foot may walk differently because the foot muscles are weak and the calf muscles are tight. This may cause a person with drop foot to lift their knee up high in order to clear obstacles such as stairs or prevent toes from catching on the ground.Tightening of the calf muscles can also make it difficult to stand with the heels on the ground, which in turn makes it more difficult to lift the foot up. Walking,especially on uneven ground can be a challenge and the person is more likely to stumble and fall.

Experienced physiotherapist assisting with some ankle dorsiflexion exercisesAbove: Experienced physiotherapist assisting with some ankle dorsiflexion exercises

Physiotherapy for foot drop

Treatment of a foot drop depends upon the underlying cause of the injury and is therefore tailored to the individual.Our motivated physiotherapists at can help promote a more normal walking pattern. The aims at for treating a person with a drop foot are:
  • Promote normal range of motion to the foot and ankle during walking
  • Maintain normal walking using exercises for the leg and foot muscles
  • Increase balance and posture
  • Reduce fear and risk of falling
  • Promote independence
  • Improve quality of life provide specialised treatment programmes for foot drop which may include:
  • Muscle strength training to reduce muscle weakness
  • Muscle stretching to help lengthen tight muscles and reduce stiffness
  • Orthotic devices to encourage the foot to lift upwards when stepping and prevent injury
  • Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) to stimulate the nerve supplying the leg and help lift the foot upwards to improve the quality of walking.Your physiotherapist will determine whether you are suitable for this treatment.
To book an appointment call 0330 088 7800, book online or alternatively request a free phone consultation.

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