8 Common Causes of Foot Drop

If you drag your foot while walking you have a chance of foot drop. It is a neurological condition that usually triggers by peripheral nerve injury.

Aug 29, 2022 - 17:46
Feb 1, 2023 - 05:38
8 Common Causes of Foot Drop
8 Common Causes of Foot Drop

When the nerves that supply the control of movement to your lower leg muscles are damaged, you can experience a condition known as foot drop. Foot drop is a neurological condition that causes weakness and loss of function in the ankle and toes. In most cases, foot drop is temporary and requires minimal treatment.


A stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks the blood flow to a specific brain region. When this happens, brain parts can be so severely damaged that they can no longer function properly. A stroke can cause a foot drop in two ways. Firstly, the stroke can affect the portion of the brain responsible for sending signals to the muscles in the lower leg. Secondly, the stroke can cause damage to the nerves supplying the muscles of the foot and ankle. In most cases, the foot drop only lasts for a short period and you can use an AFO brace to help you walk.

Brain Tumor

A brain tumor is the uncontrolled growth of cancerous cells inside the brain. It can occur at any age and in any part of the brain. Brain tumors are usually treated with surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. A tumor can grow on or near the nerves controlling the muscles in the lower leg, foot, or toes. When this happens, the tumor can interfere with the nerves' ability to signal to the muscles. A brain tumor can cause foot drop in two ways. The tumor can directly damage the nerves controlling the muscles in the lower leg.

Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition in which the immune system attacks and damages the myelin sheath surrounding the nerve. The myelin sheath is a protective layer that helps signal transmission from nerves to other cells in the body. Without it, nerves can't send signals as efficiently. MS can cause foot drop in two ways. The first is that it can damage the nerves controlling the muscles in the lower leg. The second is that it can impair the function of the muscles themselves. When the muscles don't contract properly, they can't rise and support your foot when walking.

Peripheral Nerve Injury

A peripheral nerve injury occurs when a medical condition damages a nerve in the lower leg. This can result in foot drop if the nerve responsible for controlling the foot muscles is damaged.

Bacterial or Viral Infection

A bacterial or viral infection anywhere along the nerve pathways in your lower leg can cause a foot drop. This is because the immune system sends white blood cells to the infection site, which can damage the nerves along the way. In many cases, a bacterial or viral infection that causes foot drop only lasts a short period.

Foot Drop Syndrome

Foot drop syndrome (FDS) is a type of foot drop that results from an abnormality in the control system of the lower leg muscles. In most cases, FDS is caused by damage to the peroneal nerve. However, it can also be caused by injuries to the tibial nerve, common peroneal nerve, or fibular nerve. A variation of this condition is dropped foot syndrome (DFS). While FDS is a temporary condition, DFS is often a long-term condition that requires more extensive treatment.

Muscular Disorder

A muscular disorder is a condition that impairs the normal function of the muscles. It can cause weakness, spasms, and atrophy (muscle wasting). A muscular disorder can cause foot drop if it affects the muscles in your lower leg. The most common musculoskeletal disorders that cause foot drop include:

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig's disease - Muscular dystrophy - Myasthenia gravis - Scleroderma - Paraplegia
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

Ankle Instability or Dislocation

Ankle instability or dislocation can cause foot drop if it affects the muscles in the lower leg. However, this is rare, and foot drop is usually just one of the signs of ankle instability.

Ankle instability occurs when the ligaments in the ankle joint become stretched or torn. When this happens, the ankle joint can no longer be supported properly, affecting the muscles in your lower leg.


The lower leg is an intricate and complex system of nerves, muscles, and blood vessels. Any conditions or injuries can affect the lower leg and result in foot drop. The best way to prevent foot drops is to be aware of these conditions and avoid activities that put you at risk.