GenHealth Hamilton

A step ahead on Foot Drop

What is foot drop? 

Foot drop is caused by disruption to a nerve that runs past your knee and into your shin called the common peroneal nerve which controls lifting the foot and toes up from the ground, which causes the foot to drop leading to issues with walking.

What does it look like?

People with foot drop most commonly present with difficulty clearing toes over the ground during the gait cycle, they may find the need to lift their knee up to their toes from catching the ground. This often leads to an increased number of falls and a reduction in mobility. 

How can this occur? 

The common peroneal nerve is a branch of the sciatic nerve (which most people have probably heard of), it originates at  L4, 5, S1, 2 and runs around the outside of the knee over the fibula head and down towards the front of your ankle. Disruption to this nerve causes loss of power and sensation to the muscles and skin of the skin. These muscles are responsible for the upward motion of your foot. 

Disruption to the nerve can occur anywhere along the nerve. From your lumbar region to your lower leg, this most commonly can occur through trauma or injury to the knee through total knee replacements or falls, multiple sclerosis, diabetes complications and lumbar region nerve impingements.  Central nervous system lesions can also be involved with foot drop, such as stroke, MS or tumors. 

What can you do about it? 

Physiotherapists, Exercises Physiologists and Podiatrists can work with patients investigating the cause of the foot drop and to create a treatment plan to increase mobility. Our main concern with foot drop is the safety of the patient, the treatment plan will always include a falls prevention element. 


Foot drop is a common condition with many different causes. It’s characterized by the lack of foot clearance during the gait cycle leading to an increase in falls risk. If this sounds like something you struggle with, book an appointment today with any of our friendly Gen Health team members.


All information is general and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.


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