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Foot Drop Tests for Assessment and Diagnosis

Posted by:

Johannes Sauer

Published at: June 27, 2024

Table of Contents
  1. Importance of Foot Drop Testing

  2. Types of Tests for Foot Drop

    1. Heel walk Test

    2. Manual Muscle Test (MMT)

    3. Drag Test

    4. Jump Test

  3. Advanced Diagnostic Techniques

    1. MRI

    2. Nerve Conduction Studies

  4. Best Shoes for Foot Drop

Foot drop is a condition that causes you not to be able to fully lift the front part of your foot as you walk. It can affect one or both feet, and may have a number of possible causes, such as nerve damage, MS, or a muscle, nerve, brain or spinal cord disorder.


This post explores the various foot drop tests that are used to help diagnose this condition.

Importance of Foot Drop Testing

It takes around 3-4 months for most patients to rehabilitate fully from foot drop. The sooner you test, the sooner you will be able to start on your treatment plan. 

Plus, testing for foot drop ensures you are treating the right condition, and gives you a chance to evaluate, test for and treat the underlying cause.

Types of Tests for Foot Drop

Jun 27, 2024

A variety of types of tests are used to diagnose foot drop, including walking tests, muscle tests, imaging, nerve conduction studies and more.

In some cases, a diagnosis may be possible using one of the basic tests below. Difficulties performing these basic tests indicate possible foot drop. In others, more advanced diagnostics may be required.

Heel walk Test

For this test, attempt to walk 10-15 feet on only your heels. You should only try this test if you feel confident you can maintain your balance, and/or you have suitable support.

Manual Muscle Test (MMT)

Sit in a chair. Extend your leg in front of you. Try to raise your foot off the floor and flex it so your toes are moving up and in toward the direction of your leg

Drag Test

This is also called the “slap test.” Walk 10 to 15 feet, monitoring your gait. If you notice your foot is dragging, that is a sign of foot drop. Also check if your foot slaps when it hits the ground. That is another sign.

Jump Test

Try to jump. If you have a hard time doing so successfully, you may have foot drop. Only do this test if you are confident you will not fall.

Advanced Diagnostic Techniques

Let’s learn about some of the more advanced diagnostic techniques used for foot drop. 

MRI

This test can help you find out whether you are suffering nerve compression. Other imaging tests a doctor may employ include X-rays, ultrasound or CT scan.

Nerve Conduction Studies

Electrodes are used to pass a mild electrical current through the nerve, and take a measure of conductivity. The test may be mildly painful or uncomfortable. The discomfort does not last long.

Best Shoes for Foot Drop

One of the keys to recovering from foot drop is to practice walking and performing foot drop exercises.

To do that safely, comfortable and effectively, it helps to wear shoes that assist with maintaining a natural gait. 

The Cadense Original Adaptive Shoe for men and women is an innovative shoe boasting a proprietary feature called variable friction technology. This technology makes it possible to “glide” across uneven surfaces, making it easier to walk with foot drop.

Discover signs of healing from foot drop, and browse all shoes for foot drop.

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FAQ

Is foot drop testing painful?

Most methods used for foot drop testing are not painful. If electromyography (EMG) or nerve conduction studies are used, you may find those uncomfortable.

How long does foot drop testing take?

The various tests used to diagnose foot drop may take anywhere from 15 minutes to more than an hour. You also will need to await your results.

How is foot drop diagnosed?

Foot drop is diagnosed using a variety of exams. These may include a physical exam, imaging tests, and/or electromyography (EMG) or nerve conduction studies. Note that along with diagnosing the foot drop, its underlying cause must be assessed, which may sometimes involve additional tests.

What are the common symptoms of foot drop?

With foot drop, you cannot fully lift the front part of your foot as you walk. Your toes may drag along the ground, and you may have an unnatural gait. Sometimes, numbness or other unusual nerve sensations are present.

Posted by: Johannes Sauer

Johannes is the CEO and Co-Founder of Cadense and passionate about helping people with walking difficulties. Johannes is the CEO and Co-Founder of Cadense and passionate about helping people with walking difficulties. He was immediately drawn to the mission of the company because his cousin lost his lower leg in a tragic motorcycle accident a few years ago and is experiencing walking difficulties ever since. Johannes brings over a decade of experience in working for consumer product companies to Cadense. He holds an MBA from the University of Graz in Austria. Johannes lives with his family in Santa Barbara, CA.

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