Walking anomalies, gait disturbance: What's it, causes, symptoms, diagnostics, treatment, prevention

Walking abnormalities; Gait abnormalities

What are gait disorders?

Gait anomalies, also called gait disorders, are changes in normal walking patterns. Anomalies occur in the movement of limbs and other parts of the body, what causes difficulty walking and standing. Gait disorders can be caused by a variety of factors., from medical conditions to neurological disorders and psychological conditions.

Some walking abnormalities have been given names:

  • propulsive gait - hunched over, rigid posture with the head and neck tilted forward.
  • Scissors gait - legs slightly bent at the hips and knees, like squatting, when the knees and hips hit or cross in motion, similar to scissors.
  • Spasmodic gait - stiff, legs drag, caused by prolonged muscle contraction on one side.
  • Walking gait - the foot hangs down with the toes, downward, causing the toes to scratch the ground when walking, which requires, for someone to lift a leg higher, than usual, when walking.
  • waddling gait - duck gait, which may appear in childhood or later in life.
  • Ataxic gait, or gait on a wide support - feet wide apart, uneven, jerky, wobbly or slapping when trying to walk.
  • Magnetic gait - shuffling with feeling, that the feet stick to the ground.

Causes of gait disorders

Gait disorders can be caused by a variety of factors., including diseases, neurological disorders, psychological conditions and physical disabilities. Common Medical Causes of Gait Disorders Include Arthritis, nerve damage, spinal cord injury, muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy. Neurological disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease, can cause gait disturbance. Psychological conditions, such as depression and anxiety, can also lead to gait disturbances. Besides, physical disorders, such as a leg or foot injury, can also cause gait disturbances.

Common causes of abnormal gait may include:

  • Arthritis of the joints of the lower leg or foot
  • conversion disorder (mental disorder)
  • Foot problems (such as corn, ingrown toenail, wart, pain, skin irritation, swelling or spasms)
  • broken bone
  • muscle injections, causing pain in the legs or buttocks
  • Infection
  • Early
  • Legs of different lengths
  • Inflammation or swelling of the muscles (myositis)
  • Shin splints
  • shoe problems
  • Inflammation or swelling of the tendons (Tendinitis)
  • Inverted testis
  • Diseases of the head, spinal cord and peripheral nerves
  • Vision problems

This list does not include all causes of abnormal gait..


propulsive gait:

  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • manganese poisoning
  • Parkinson's Disease
  • The use of some drugs, including phenothiazines, haloperidol, thiothixene, loxapine and metoclopramide (The effects of the drugs are usually temporary.)

Spastic or scissor gait:

  • Encephalopyosis
  • Brain or head injury
  • Encephaloma
  • Stroke
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Cervical spondylosis with myelopathy (problem with the vertebrae in the neck)
  • Refusal baked
  • Multiple sclerosis (RS)
  • Pernitsioznaya anemia (state, in which healthy red blood cells are not enough to supply oxygen to body tissues)
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Spinal cord growth
  • Neurosyphilis (bacterial infection of the brain or spinal cord due to syphilis)
  • Siringomielija (accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid, produced in the spinal cord)

Walking gait:

  • Guillain Barre syndrome
  • Lumbar disc herniation
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular weakness of the tibia
  • Peroneal neuropathy
  • Polio
  • Spinal cord injury

Waddle gait:

  • Congenital hip dysplasia
  • Mыshechnaya dystrophy (Group of hereditary diseases, causing muscle weakness and loss of muscle tissue)
  • Muscle disease (myopathy)
  • spinal muscular atrophy

Ataxic or wide gait:

  • Ostraya mozzhechkovaya ataxia (uncoordinated muscle movements due to disease or damage to the cerebellum in the brain)
  • Chiari malformation
  • Alcohol intoxication
  • brain injury
  • Damage to nerve cells in the cerebellum (cerebellar degeneration)
  • Medicines (phenytoin and other anticonvulsants)
  • Polyneuropathy (damage to many nerves, like with diabetes)

magnetic gait:

  • Disease, affecting the anterior part of the brain
  • Gidrocefaliя (cephaledema)

Symptoms of a gait disorder

Gait disorders can manifest themselves in different ways.. Common symptoms include:

  • Slow, stiff or jerky gait.
  • Difficulty standing still or keeping balance
  • Frequent falls or difficulty controlling movements.
  • unusual poses, such as stoop, leaning or standing on one leg.
  • Stumble, stumble or drag one's foot
  • Cramps or tremors in the foot or leg
  • Arm swing, like a rower.

The severity of symptoms can range from mild to severe. Besides, symptoms may worsen or improve over time.

When to see a doctor

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is important to consult a doctor. Your doctor can help you determine, whether the disease is the cause of gait abnormalities.

Questions, that your doctor may ask

When you visit your doctor, be prepared to answer questions about your medical history., past injuries and any medications, that you take. Your doctor may also ask about any of your psychological conditions., such as depression and anxiety, as they can also contribute to gait disturbances.

Diagnosis of gait disorders

To diagnose gait disorders, the doctor will conduct a medical examination. It will watch your movements and ask you to complete a series of tests., to detect any deviations. Your doctor may also order imaging tests to further evaluate your gait and diagnose the underlying cause of your gait disturbance..

Treatment of gait disorders

Treatment for gait disorders depends on the underlying cause. If the gait disturbance is caused by any disease, a doctor may prescribe medication to reduce inflammation and improve mobility. Your doctor may also recommend physical or occupational therapy, to help improve movement, strength and coordination. For neurological reasons, a doctor may recommend such medications., like levodopa or deep brain stimulation therapy.

Treatment of gait disorders at home

In addition to the usual treatments, there are also several home remedies., which can help improve gait disorders. Here are some examples:

Stretching exercises

Stretching regularly can help improve range of motion and flexibility., making it easier to maintain balance and correct abnormal walking patterns.

Balance exercises

Balance exercises, such as standing on one leg for a few seconds, can help strengthen muscles and improve balance and coordination.

Orthopedic insoles

You can also use orthopedic insoles, such as shoe inserts, to relieve pressure on the feet and help improve walking mechanics.

Rest and relaxation

Finally, it is important to rest and relax a lot. Take breaks during the day and be sure to get enough sleep at night. It can help reduce stress and fatigue, which can worsen gait disorders.

Prevention of gait disorders

Although there is no reliable way to prevent gait abnormalities, there are several lifestyle changes, which you can contribute, to reduce the risk. Here are some tips:

  • Maintain muscle strength. Genetics and age predict gait abnormalities, but lifestyle plays an important role. Maintaining muscle strength may help reduce the risk of developing gait disorders.
  • Stay Active. Regular physical activity helps improve balance, flexibility and coordination.
  • Watch your posture. Maintaining good posture can help reduce the risk of developing gait disorders.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of developing gait disorders.
  • Listen to your body. If you notice any change in your gait, be sure to see a doctor.

Following these tips and consulting your doctor, you can reduce your risk of developing gait disorders.

Used sources and literature

Magee DJ, Manx RC. Assessment of gait. In: Magee DJ, Manx RC, eds. Orthopedic Physical Assessment. 7th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2021:chap 14.

Thompson PD, Nutt JG. Gait disorders. In: Jankovic J, Mazziotta JC, Pomeroy SL, Newman NJ, eds. Bradley and Daroff’s Neurology in Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2022:chap 25.

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