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I Can't Lift My Leg: Do I Have Drop Foot?

Not being able to lift your legs is a warning sign, but what does it mean? From muscle injury to nerve irritation, there are many reasons why you can’t lift your leg. The exact cause becomes clearer when you also have to work a little harder to get your foot off the ground. 

Our experts at US Neuropathy Centers know just how frustrating it is when your health is a question mark. We utilize our extensive diagnostic tools and treatment options to understand your specific situation and determine if your leg weakness is tied to drop foot

An overview of drop foot

Drop foot, sometimes called foot drop, refers to the inability to lift the front part of your foot. It’s not a stand-alone disease but the result of underlying neurological, muscular, and anatomical issues. 

If you have drop foot, you’ll likely develop an unnatural gait, notice a lack of sensation in your foot and toes, and experience muscle weakness in addition to having trouble lifting your foot. 

While the name might sound like a condition confined to your feet, the impact of drop foot can creep into the rest of your lower extremities. 

Drop foot and your legs

Have you ever felt your legs give out after strenuous exercise? Has a moment of intense emotion ever made you go weak in the knees? 

There are a few common and harmless reasons you may feel temporary leg weakness, but when it becomes severe, chronic, and unexplainable, it’s time to consider that there’s a more serious condition at work. 

Drop foot typically stems from either muscular or neurological problems. Here’s how each might affect your ability to lift your legs. 

Nerve injury

One of the main reasons leg problems accompany drop foot is nerve damage — more specifically damage to the peroneal nerve. This long nerve runs the length of your leg and is responsible for helping you lift your foot. 

Often, hip or knee replacement surgery damages the peroneal nerve. Pinched nerves in your spine or nerve damage as a result of diabetes can also make it difficult for you to lift your foot and your leg. 

Muscle and nerve disorders

Sometimes, drop foot and the leg weakness that follows are due to a specific trauma or injury. Other times, it’s the slow progression of a muscle or nerve disorder. 

Muscular dystrophy, polio, and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease are all culprits of muscle weakness in your legs and can cause drop foot. 

Brain and spinal cord disorders

Your inability to lift your leg combined with drop foot could stem from disorders in your brain and spine. If you suffer from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or multiple sclerosis (MS) or have had a stroke, you could be dealing with leg muscle weakness in addition to drop foot. 

Other risk factors

You might be wondering why you’re struggling with these symptoms when you have a clean bill of health. Consider this: Do you sit cross-legged for long periods of time? Do you do a job that requires you to squat or kneel all day? Have you recently been in a leg cast?

All of these factors can result in nerve damage that causes not only drop foot but an inability to lift your leg as well. 

Treating your leg weakness

Because your leg weakness and drop foot can stem from a few different conditions, we start your journey to recovery by conducting a thorough evaluation of your medical history and symptoms. We use physical exams and imaging tests like X-rays, ultrasound, and MRI to fully understand your situation. 

Once we’ve determined the source of your leg weakness, we move forward creating your customized treatment plan. 

If your trouble lifting your leg is coupled with drop foot, we may recommend the following treatments:

We treat your leg and foot troubles as conservatively as possible by helping your body naturally reboot its normal nerve and muscle function. If those conservative measures prove unsuccessful, we have skilled surgeons who can perform the delicate surgery required to relieve nerve pressure and restore strength. 

Don’t write your leg weakness off as a simple inconvenience. Come see us to get peace of mind and relief from symptoms. 

If you have more questions or would like to get started with a consultation, call our Marietta, Georgia, office or schedule an appointment online today.

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