From a young age, walking from one place to another is one of the most essential and simple physical activities we do. Walking is so effortless and natural it may not even occur to you that how you do it matters.
When your gait goes wrong, it can cause all kinds of medical issues or indicate an underlying condition. Understand from experienced podiatrists Ryan Golub, DPM, and Zachary Flynn, DPM, AACFAS, practicing at Arizona Foot Health in Phoenix, Arizona, the importance of your gait and what to do if you have concerns about it.
Why is your gait so important?
Your gait describes how your body moves when you’re walking, running, or otherwise moving while upright. Walking seems straightforward, but walking requires a complex network of movements, neurological signals, and enough physical strength.
A normal gait involves walking smoothly by putting one foot evenly in front of the other. It helps you safely move around and engage with the world.
What is an abnormal gait?
An abnormal gate occurs whenever something goes wrong in the complex network of systems required to walk correctly. You could walk unevenly, shuffle while walking, or move in another way that looks or feels unstable.
Abnormal gates can have different causes and be temporary or long term. You might lack the strength to walk well, miss neurological signals telling you to walk, struggle with coordination, or have an injury or structural issue that makes walking correctly difficult.
Walking with an abnormal gate can put you at risk for further problems, including falls that cause injury or further problems and dizziness, vertigo, and even motion sickness.
What causes abnormal gait?
An abnormal gait can result from several medical issues and also be part of the aging process for some older adults. Common causes include:
- Foot or leg infections
- Neurological conditions
- Inner ear infections
- Congenital disabilities
Taking some medications can also cause you to develop an abnormal gate, especially if you take several long-term medications.
Treating an abnormal gate
Usually, treating your abnormal gate involves determining and treating the cause of the gate issue. Our podiatrists at Arizona Foot Health can treat many causes of gate difficulties.
Our team performs an assessment at our office to determine what’s causing your walk to be unusual. Your assessment often includes features like watching your gate, taking X-rays, and performing other tests.
Once our team determines the cause of your abnormal gate, they develop a treatment plan to resolve the issue. This could involve referring you to other specialists, particularly if the underlying cause of your abnormal gate isn’t related to your feet and ankles.
If your unsteady gate has a cause that isn’t related to a medical condition, such as aging, our team works with you to help you walk as safely as possible and minimize your risk of falls. We might also recommend physical therapy to help you regain strength and improve your walk.
A steady gate is something many of us assume we’ll have forever, but unexpected problems walking don’t need to be permanent or throw your lifestyle for a loop. Contact us today to book an appointment for assistance walking and other podiatry concerns.