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Difficulty lifting the front part of your foot, which is sometimes the only sign of foot drop
Dragging your foot on the floor as you walk
Slapping your foot down onto the floor with each step you take
Raising your thigh when you walk, as if you were climbing stairs (steppage gait)
Pain, weakness or numbness in the foot
Foot drop typically affects only one foot. Depending on the underlying cause, however, it's possible for both feet to be affected.
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Foot drop is caused by weakness or paralysis of the muscles below the knee involved in lifting the front part of the foot. The underlying causes of foot drop are varied. Often, neurological, muscular and anatomical problems overlap.
Specific foot drop causes may include:
Muscle or nerve damage. An injury to the muscles that control the ankle and toes can cause foot drop. Sometimes nerve damage — from an injury to the nerves in the lower spine or leg to the long-term nerve damage of diabetes (neuropathy) — causes foot drop. In other cases, nerve damage occurs during hip or knee replacement surgery. Pressure to the nerve on the outside of the shinbone just below the knee (peroneal or fibular nerve), as you might experience if you sit with your legs crossed for too long, can trigger temporary foot drop.
Muscle or nerve disorders. Various forms of muscular dystrophy, an inherited disease that causes progressive muscle weakness, may contribute to foot drop. Various forms of compartment syndrome, a condition characterized by the compression of nerves and blood vessels within an enclosed space, may have the same effect.
Central nervous system disorders. Disorders that affect the spinal cord or brain — such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis or stroke — may cause foot drop.
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