Gait Disorders, Abnormal Gait, Gait Causes and Treatment

Abnormal Gait | Walking Problems

An abnormal walking gait is defined by the unusual stride of a person due to abnormalities in the feet. The word “gait” refers to how a person walks and is linked with our motor coordination. In an abnormal walking gait, your movements may be:

  • Unusually smaller
  • Dragged against the floor
  • Wider
  • Slower
  • Stiffer

Needless to say, an abnormal walking gait can be uncomfortable and may result in further foot deformities. If you think you are experiencing an abnormal walking gait, see an orthotic clinic for a better evaluation.

Gait and balance problems: causes and treatment

Abnormal gaits and balance problems have many causes. Some of these include:

  • Abnormal muscle development
  • Arthritis
  • A vision problem can contribute to a poor walking gait
  • Neurologic problems
  • Disorders affecting motor coordination and balance
  • Injuries and previous foot deformities

Treatment for gait and balance problems include:

  • Orthotics
  • Physical therapy
  • Medication
  • In rare instances, surgery

Abnormal gait: types, causes, and diagnosis

Here are some of the common gait disorders:

  • Propulsive gait: those with Parkinson’s disease are prone to a propulsive gait. Usually, the head and neck will be bent forward with a slouching posture. People with a propulsive gait will typically take shorter and faster steps.
  • Scissors gait: it looks as though one is crouching in a scissors gait because the legs and pelvis are flexed. In this abnormal gait, a person will take small yet slow steps. Those with cerebral palsy are prone to develop this walking gait.
  • Waddling gait: as the name implies, the waddling gait is a duck-like stride. Those with muscle dislocations (specifically at the hip) are likely to develop a waddling gait. It can be hereditary.

There are many more abnormal walking gaits. You can see that many of them follow a hereditary or neurological condition, making those with brain disorders likely to develop gait problems. Therefore, the causes of the abnormal gaits are associated with neurological diseases, unusual muscle growth, some psychological disorders, and previous foot deformities.

Diagnosing an abnormal gait comes down to many individual factors, such as reviewing your medical history, performing a physical examination, checking your bones through an x-ray possibly, and also a neurological examination.

Gait disorders

Here is a list of gait disorders that are classified based on how the person appears to walk:

  • Hemispastic gait: the swinging of the hip is impaired and unnatural
  • Paraspastic gait: legs are continuously bent a little with adduction
  • Ataxic gait: coordination is hard to maintain
  • Sensory ataxic gait: worsened coordination with little to no sensory input
  • Cautious gait: slow and anxious movements
  • Freezing gait: stopping or freezing upon a motion (ex: turning)

The spinal cord controls walking gait

The spinal cord is involved with motor coordination, and will, therefore, affect the walking gait. With many sensory receptors, our spinal cord controls our walking gait, and damage to our spinal cord can result in uncoordinated movements, delayed reactions, our speed, and the distance we travel.

Gait disorders & ataxia

In ataxia, a person may be able to move around unconsciously and be able to process how to walk, but putting it together will be the problem. This can result in hesitant, delayed, and uncontrollable movements because of the cerebellum’s inability to piece together information.

Neurodegenerative diseases: what is ataxia?

Ataxia is defined as the inability to coordinate your voluntary movements because the cerebellum is affected by the gene or injury. Ataxia not only impacts gait problems, but also blinking, swallowing, and speech patterns. Because the cerebellum plays a huge role in motor coordination, damage to it may result in ataxia and can restrict voluntary movement. It can be developed throughout one’s lifespan or be hereditary. It can either be an autosomal dominant or autosomal recessive gene in hereditary ataxia.

What is multiple sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis is a condition targeting the central nervous system by attacking the myelin sheath. In a neuron (brain cell), the myelin sheath serves as a protective barrier. Attacking the myelin sheath makes it hard for neurons to communicate and results in slower transmission. Currently, there is no official cure for multiple sclerosis, but doctors may try to manage the symptoms being experienced.

What are the symptoms of multiple sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis, like some neurological diseases, have very different symptoms, and so it is hard to classify if someone has the condition without investigating the brain through imaging and scanning. However, there are some symptoms that are collectively grouped to identify the condition:

  • Tiredness
  • Difficulty in walking or motor coordination
  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulty seeing
  • Speech impairment
  • Pain to some degree

Why do I have difficulty balancing while walking?

Loss of balance or difficulty in balancing can come from multiple sources. Most commonly, these are the common roots of balance problems:

  • Medication
  • Neurological diseases or disorders (such as Parkinson’s)
  • Damage to the nerves in your legs or the cerebellum
  • Any prior joint, muscle, and sight impairments
  • Ear infections
  • Head trauma

Your journey towards healthy feet and quality of life begins with Mobility on Mainway, Burlington’s Chiropodist, Pedorthist, and Athletic Therapist. Our team takes a holistic approach to foot care with a full gait biomechanics analysis to assess the movement of your lower limbs.

Contact us at 289-245-6624 for an assessment and your journey toward Pain-Free Living Today!

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