Foot drop is a condition resulting in the paralysis of the muscles of the leg below the knee that lift the front of the foot. This means that patients experiencing this will not be able to move their foot in an upwards motion. Often, a person with foot drop will need to wear a leg brace to assist with walking.

There are a few possible causes of foot drop. Among the most common are lumbar disc herniation (damage to a nerve root in the lumbar spine) or damage to nerves around the knee or hip.

A foot drop can also begin after back or leg injuries, a knee operation or even common activities like squatting or crossing legs for long periods of time.

Treating Foot Drop

The multidisciplinary team at the Mass General Paralysis Center will diagnose the type of injury and the location that is causing a foot drop. Once a the location of  has been identified, our physicians can determine the best course of action. Procedures to correct foot drop may involve relieving pressure from a nerve in the knee or spine. In some severe cases, nerve grafting or nerve transfers may be necessary. If a patient has been experiencing foot drop for an extended period, a tendon transfer may the best intervention to restore movement.

Signs of recovery can be seen in three to six months after the operation, and full return of function may be achieved in 12-24 months.