For most, walking feels second-nature - carefree and easy to execute without having to put too much thought into it. But between strength, coordination, and balance, our body puts in a lot of work for each and every step. If your gait (how you walk) is abnormal or unusual, it could throw all three of those things off and cause multiple issues throughout your life.
What causes an abnormal gait?
An abnormal gait is something that anyone can experience. Here are ways it manifests at different points in peoples’ lives:
Children: Children grow and develop at different speeds, so spotting an abnormal gait can be tricky when they’re very young. Luckily, most common issues in children - like bow legs, flat feet, or in-toeing - right themselves as the child grows. However, if issues worsen, persist, or cause pain, it’s important to check in with a pediatric podiatrist.
Adults: Abnormal gait in adults can typically be attributed to a physical disability or an injury. If the abnormal gait is from a permanent disability, pain can be managed with walking aids, orthotics, and medication. If an injury has changed your gait, physical therapy can correct the issue over time.
Elderly: Degenerative diseases like arthritis, Parkinson’s, and dementia can bring about an abnormal gait or a lack of balance. Over 60% of people over 80 years old have some sort of gait abnormality. They can often be treated or improved through orthotics, physical therapy, and through walking aids.
What are the types of abnormal gaits?
There are different types of abnormal gaits that podiatrists look for, including:
- Limping gait: A very common abnormality that comes with a resistance to weight bearing on one side of the body.
- Scissors gait: A person’s legs bend in towards each other. They may even hit together when walking.
- Neuropathic gait: When a person’s toes point downwards or scrape along the ground as they walk.
- Diplegic gait: When a person drags their feet each step.
- Propulsive gait: The neck and head are permanently thrust forward in the body.
- Sensory or stomping gait: When someone picks their foot high off the ground and steps down hard with each step.
- Myopathic or waddling gait: When someone takes short steps and swings the body from side to side.
Get help from a foot care expert
If you are having issues with balancing properly, dealing with an injury that’s affecting the way you walk, or if you notice gait abnormalities in your child or another loved one, get in touch with our foot care specialists at Foot and Ankle Specialists of Central Ohio. Our expert podiatrists provide top notch foot and ankle care for the whole family to address acute and chronic issues, including heel pain, toenail fungus, bunions, arthritis, and diabetes. Contact any of our 9 locations in the Columbus, Ohio area to make an appointment today!