What Are Common Causes of Foot Weakness?

Spinal injuries or neurological conditions that lead to mobility issues can cause foot weakness.
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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 03 October 2014
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Foot weakness refers to a condition where there is a decrease in the usual strength or movements of the foot. This can be due to a variety of factors, including simple injury or fatigue, disorders of the nervous system, or other health disorders like diabetes or rheumatic diseases. Severity of the condition can range from mild discomfort to total inability to use the affected part.

Injury or fatigue can lead to a feeling of weakness. If the foot has been injured, there may be improper blood flow through the leg and foot area, causing foot weakness. Excessive use of leg muscles during or after strenuous activities like running or biking may cause tiredness and cramping, resulting in foot weakness. Lack of hydration or potassium imbalance may also lead to cramping and weakness.

Weakness in the foot is one symptom that could indicate a disorder of the nervous system, such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. This is a neurological disease where there is degeneration of nerves, usually starting in the hands and feet. Multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease that attacks the nervous system and causes damage to the nerves, may also cause muscle weakness, difficulty walking, and possible paralysis.

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Foot drop is a condition characterized by an inability to move the ankle and to flex the toes upward. This results in an abnormal gait, where the foot slaps down onto the floor when the affected person attempts to walk. The condition is caused by damage to the peroneal nerve, which is responsible for upward flexion of the toes. People suffering from foot drop may experience both ankle and foot weakness.

Weakness in the foot is also associated with medical conditions like diabetes and poliomyelitis. Diabetic neuropathy is a complication of diabetes wherein nerve damage occurs as a result of long-term high blood-sugar levels. Typical symptoms of the condition are pain, numbness, or tingling sensations in the feet. Poliomyelitis is an infectious disease caused by a virus that can attack the central nervous system and destroy motor neurons. One of its possible symptoms is muscle weakness, sometimes leading to leg paralysis.

Another possible and common cause of foot weakness is rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an inflammatory disorder that primarily affects synovial joints. A person suffering from RA will typically experience a swelling in the affected joints, which feel stiff, warm, and painful. The stiffness in the joints caused by RA is yet another example of foot weakness.

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amysamp
Post 5

@geekish - She is still running and I know it has been at least 6 years since she has been diagnosed with foot drop. I get tired just thinking about how many miles she has run.

And now she has even more reason for not retiring. The brace company was inspired by her story so they have hired her part time as a spokesperson!

geekish
Post 4

@amysamp - What a neat story. Does she still run or did she retire after she qualified for the Boston Marathon?

amysamp
Post 3

I have a friend who has foot drop who has the most amazing story. She was diagnosed with spina bifida and had extensive back problems until finally she had surgery.

She also had foot drop which caused her great emotional pain because she was an avid runner and had even qualified for he Boston Marathon.

She now runs with the help of a brace. The only thing that can top the amazing fact she has been given back her ability to run because of her brace is that she just recently qualified for the Boston Marathon!

manykitties2
Post 2

@Sara007 - I am really sorry to hear about your mother's condition. Foot weakness doesn't seem like such a terrible thing when you first hear about it, but once you consider not being able to stand on a foot it really hits home how bad it can be.

I have been suffering from foot weakness on and off for a few years, but for myself it has been due to poor hydration during exercise. I always seem to forget to drink water when I am working out and my muscles end up cramping pretty badly. From now I am going to do my best to make sure that I avoid any foot weakness. I would hate to lose my mobility completely because I didn't take care of myself.

Sara007
Post 1

My mother has diabetes and her doctor was always warning her about the necessity of proper foot care. Apparently poor blood sugar levels can really wreck habit with your foot strength and the healing of tissue in your foot.

A few years ago my mother starting experiencing foot weakness and her doctor linked it to too high blood sugar levels. Apparently the more out of whack your insulin is, the more weakness of limbs you can experience.

My mother is currently in a wheelchair because her foot is too weak to support her body. She hasn't walked in almost a year because her foot weakness has gotten so bad. Whatever you do, take care of your diabetes because it can cause serious mobility issues later in life.

My mother's doctor hopes that she will walk again with a proper diet and with her diabetes more under control. So far there has been no improvement so we are worried that her condition may be permanent.

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