How diabetes and foot drop are related


By pH health care professionals

If you have diabetes, or someone you love has diabetes, you are certainly not alone. According to the American Diabetes Association, 29.1 million Americans had diabetes in 2012. That’s 9.3 percent of the population. Among senior citizens, age 65 and up, the prevalence was even higher, at 25.9 percent.

As you may already know, diabetes can cause problems with your feet, including “foot drop.” Foot drop refers to the inability to lift the front part of the foot. People who have this condition may be noted to lift their knees higher than normal to avoid dragging their toes.

How does diabetes cause foot drop?

Diabetes can cause nerve damage, and when a nerve that affects foot and ankle movement is damaged, and specifically the ability to lift the front of the foot, you see foot drop.

This nerve damage is known as neuropathy, a result of decreased blood flow and high blood sugar. High blood sugar can injure nerve fibers throughout the body, but diabetic neuropathy often damages nerves in in the legs and feet, which can lead to pain, numbness and muscle wasting. One such nerve that can be damaged because of diabetes is the peroneal nerve, which wraps from the back of the knee to the front of the shin. The deterioration of this nerve compromises the function of the foot and ankle muscles, causing foot drop.

Besides nerve damage from high blood sugar, people with diabetes may be unaware of an injury (from accidents, falls or sports) to the peroneal nerve due to a loss of pain sensation from their neuropathy.

Be proactive

Now that you understand how diabetes can damage the nerves that cause foot drop, be proactive and talk to a health care professional if you have any symptoms of nerve damage or foot drop. And if you haven’t been diagnosed with diabetes, consider getting a screening test and a healthy nutrition plan.

Enjoy Your Healthy Life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.


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