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Neurological Causes Of Foot Drop

Neurological Causes of Foot Drop

Foot drop, or drop foot, describes the inability to raise the front part of the foot due to weakness or paralysis of the muscles or nerves. Individuals who suffer from foot drop tend to drag the front of their foot on the ground or lift their knee while walking, making everyday activities, such as walking or running, challenging.  

What causes foot drop?

Foot drop isn’t a disease. Rather it is a sign of an underlying neurological or muscular disorder. Foot drop typically occurs due to weakness in specific muscles of the leg that include:

Tibialis anterior – A muscle situated on the lateral side of the tibia. 

Extensor hallucis longus – A thin muscle situated between the tibialis anterior and the extensor digitorum longus. This muscle functions to extend the big toe and assist with foot eversion and inversion.

Extensor digitorum longus – A feather-like muscle of the anterior compartment of the leg. The primary action of this muscle is to extend the lateral four toes.

Neurological causes of foot drop

Nerves in the lower back or leg may be pinched or damaged, causing foot drop. The source of the neurological impairment is due to radiculopathy or neuropathy.


Radiculopathy describes a range of symptoms produced by the pinching of a nerve root in the spinal column. The symptoms of radiculopathy include weakness, pain, tingling, and/or numbness in the area of the affected nerve. Foot drop is commonly caused by radiculopathy of the L4 or L5 nerve root. Radiculopathy occurs due to:


Foot drop is often caused by compression of the nerve that controls the muscles in the foot. Neuropathy is a very common condition linked to foot drop and occurs when a nerve is compressed, damaged, or degenerated. Common feelings of neuropathy include numbness, tingling, and weakness in the area of the body affected. Foot drop occurs due to neuropathy of the following nerves:

  • Common peroneal nerve
  • Deep peroneal nerve
  • Sciatic nerve

Other causes of neuropathy include:

  • Diabetes
  • Trauma
  • Autoimmune disorders and infections
  • Inherited disorders

Do you live with foot drop? At the Brain2Spine Institute, we are dedicated to providing the highest quality of service and care to our patients. If you are experiencing foot drop, call us to begin your comprehensive treatment plan: (727) 500-2318.

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