Gait Disorders

Downtown office

26 Broadway, Suite 931,
NY 10004
Monday – Friday
08:00 AM – 07:00 PM

Midtown office

274 Madison Ave, Suite 1001,
NY 10016
Monday – Friday
08:00 AM – 07:00 PM

Downtown office

26 Broadway, Suite 931,

NY 10004

Monday – Friday
08:00 AM – 07:00 PM

Midtown office

274 Madison Ave, Suite 1001,

NY 10016

Monday – Friday
08:00 AM – 07:00 PM

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Gait disorders

What is Gait disorders?

Gait is the pattern that you walk. Sometimes, an injury or underlying medical condition can cause an abnormal gait. You may notice an abnormal gait if you drag your toes when you walk, take high steps or feel off balance when walking. Certain gait abnormalities are temporary and others require lifelong management.

Types of Gait admormalities :

There are several different types of gait abnormalities, the most common include:
  • Antalgic gait :  An antalgic gait is the result of pain. It’s the most common type of abnormal gait. It makes you limp (avoiding stepping with or putting pressure on your affected leg or foot).
  • Propulsive gait (Parkinsonian gait) : This type of gait affects people diagnosed with parkinsonism or Parkinson’s disease. Characteristics of a propulsive gait include a stooping, rigid posture and your head and neck bending forward. Your steps are usually short and fast to maintain your center of gravity (festinating gait).
  • Scissors gait :  This type of gait gets its name because your knees and thighs hit or cross in a scissors-like pattern when you walk. Your steps may be slow and small. This type of gait usually affects people diagnosed with spastic cerebral palsy.
  • Spastic gait (hemiplegic gait) :  A spastic gait causes you to walk with one stiff leg. When you lift that leg to walk, it either drags or swings around in a semicircular motion (circumduction). This type of gait is common among people diagnosed with cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis or hemiplegia.
  • Steppage gait (neuropathic gait) :  This type of gait causes a high step, where you elevate your hip to lift your leg higher than normal. Your foot may appear floppy when it drops. Your toes usually point down and scrape the ground when you walk. Muscle atrophy or a peroneal nerve injury (like from spinal stenosis or a herniated disc), can cause a steppage gait.
  • Waddling gait :  A waddling gait causes you to exaggerate the movement of your upper body, which creates a waddling or duck-like walk. Progressive muscular dystrophy or hip dislocation present from birth can produce a waddling gait.
  • Crouching gait :  A crouching gait causes your ankles, knees and hips to flex while you walk. It can look like you’re about to bend down as you’re walking. Your toes may drag. This type of gait is common if you have cerebral palsy.

Symptoms :

Signs and symptoms of gait abnormalities vary based on which type of abnormality you’re experiencing.
Some of the most common symptoms include :
  • Dragging or shuffling your feet.
  • Feeling out of balance when you walk.
  • Stiff muscles or joints in your hips and legs.
  • Swaying side to side with each step (waddle).
  • Walking with your head and neck bent toward the ground.
  • Taking higher than normal steps and dropping your feet with each step.
  • Taking small steps.
  • Pain when walking.

Causes :

There are a lot of possible causes of and contributing factors to gait disorders or abnormalities
The most common causes include :
  • Joint pain.
  • An injury (including bone fractures or sprains).
  • Sores on your feet, calluses, ingrown toenails, warts and corns.
  • Shoes that don’t fit properly.
  • Inner ear issues.
  • Nerve damage.
  • Vision problems.

Treatment :

Your physical therapy treatment plan may include :
Pre-gait training : Improve your gait before you take a single step.
Gait training : Your physical therapist will help you focus on retraining how you walk. They may vary your training based on whether your underlying condition is:
  • Vestibular (inner ear related).
  • Neurological (brain or nerve related).
  • Muscular.
Balance and coordination training : To help with stability during walking.
Neuromuscular reeducation  : To stimulate inactive muscle groups. They will work with you to retrain the timing, coordination, and activation of the muscles you use for walking.
Bracing or splinting   : If your gait problem is due to substantial weakness or paralysis, your physical therapist may teach you how to use adaptive equipment, like a brace or splint, to help you move. Our Physical Therapist in New York works with each patient to develop programs to meet their specific needs.

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