BACK TOTOP Browse A-ZSearchBrowse A-ZABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ0-9 E-mail FormEmail ResultsName:Email address:Recipients Name:Recipients address:Message: Print-FriendlyBookmarksbookmarks-menuWalking abnormalitiesGait abnormalitiesWalking abnormalities are unusual and uncontrollable walking patterns. They are usually due to diseases or injuries to the legs, feet, brain, spinal cord, or inner ear. Considerations The pattern of how a person walks is called the gait. Different types of walking problems occur without a person's control. Most, but not all, are due to a physical condition.Some walking abnormalities have been given names:Propulsive gait -- a stooped, stiff posture with the head and neck bent forward Scissors gait -- legs flexed slightly at the hips and knees like crouching, with the knees and thighs hitting or crossing in a scissors-like movement Spastic gait -- a stiff, foot-dragging walk caused by a long muscle contraction on one side Steppage gait -- foot drop where the foot hangs with the toes pointing down, causing the toes to scrape the ground while walking, requiring someone to lift the leg higher than normal when walking Waddling gait -- a duck-like walk that may appear in childhood or later in life Ataxic, or broad-based, gait -- feet wide apart with irregular, jerky, and weaving or slapping when trying to walk Magnetic gait -- shuffling with feet feeling as if they stick to the ground Causes Abnormal gait may be caused by diseases in different areas of the body.General causes of abnormal gait may include:Arthritis of the leg or foot joints ArthritisArthritis is inflammation or degeneration of one or more joints. A joint is the area where 2 bones meet. There are more than 100 different types of...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Conversion disorder (a mental disorder) Conversion disorderConversion disorder is a mental condition in which a person has blindness, paralysis, or other nervous system (neurologic) symptoms that cannot be ex...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Foot problems (such as a callus, corn, ingrown toenail, wart, pain, skin sore, swelling, or spasms) Broken bone Injections into muscles that causes soreness in the leg or buttocks Infection Injury Legs that are of different lengths Inflammation or swelling of the muscles (myositis) MyositisMyositis is an inflammation or swelling of the muscles. It is most often caused by injury, infection, medicines, or an autoimmune disorder. Dermatom...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Shin splints Shin splintsShin splints occur when you have pain in the front of your lower leg. The pain of shin splints is from the inflammation of the muscles, tendons, and...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Shoe problems Inflammation or swelling of the tendons (tendinitis) TendinitisTendons are the fibrous structures that join muscles to bones. When these tendons become swollen or inflamed, it is called tendinitis. In many case...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Torsion of the testis Torsion of the testisTesticular torsion is the twisting of the spermatic cord, which supports the testes in the scrotum. When this occurs, blood supply is cut off to the...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves diseases Vision problemsThis list does not include all causes of abnormal gait.CAUSES OF SPECIFIC GAITSPropulsive gait: Carbon monoxide poisoning Carbon monoxide poisoningCarbon monoxide is an odorless gas that causes thousands of deaths each year in North America. Breathing in carbon monoxide is very dangerous. It i...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Manganese poisoning Parkinson disease Parkinson diseaseParkinson disease results from certain brain cells dying. These cells help control movement and coordination. The disease leads to shaking (tremors...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Use of certain drugs, including phenothiazines, haloperidol, thiothixene, loxapine, and metoclopramide (usually, drug effects are temporary) Spastic or scissors gait: Brain abscess Brain abscessA brain abscess is a collection of pus, immune cells, and other material in the brain, caused by a bacterial or fungal infection.Read Article Now Book Mark Article Brain or head trauma Brain or head traumaA head injury is any trauma to the scalp, skull, or brain. Head injury can be either closed or open (penetrating). A closed head injury means you rec...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Brain tumor Brain tumorA brain tumor is a group (mass) of abnormal cells that grow in the brain. 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Tumors can be cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign).Read Article Now Book Mark Article Neurosyphilis (bacterial infection of the brain or spinal cord due to syphilis) NeurosyphilisNeurosyphilis is a bacterial infection of the brain or spinal cord. It usually occurs in people who have had untreated syphilis for many years....Read Article Now Book Mark Article Syringomyelia (collection of cerebrospinal fluid that forms in the spinal cord) SyringomyeliaSyringomyelia is a cyst-like collection of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that forms in the spinal cord. Over time, it damages the spinal cord.Read Article Now Book Mark Article Steppage gait: Guillain-Barré syndrome Guillain-Barré syndromeGuillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a serious health problem that occurs when the body's defense (immune) system mistakenly attacks part of the peripher...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Herniated lumbar disk Multiple sclerosis Muscle weakness of the tibia Peroneal neuropathy Peroneal neuropathyCommon peroneal nerve dysfunction is due to damage to the peroneal nerve leading to loss of movement or sensation in the foot and leg. This conditio...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Polio PolioPolio is a viral disease that can affect nerves and can lead to partial or full paralysis. The medical name for polio is poliomyelitis.Read Article Now Book Mark Article Spinal cord injury Waddling gait: Congenital hip dysplasia Congenital hip dysplasiaDevelopmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) is a dislocation of the hip joint that is present at birth. The condition is found in babies or young child...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Muscular dystrophy (group of inherited disorders that cause muscle weakness and loss of muscle tissue) Muscular dystrophyMuscular dystrophy is a group of inherited disorders that cause muscle weakness and loss of muscle tissue, which get worse over time.Read Article Now Book Mark Article Muscle disease (myopathy) Spinal muscle atrophySpinal muscle atrophySpinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a group of disorders of the motor neurons (motor cells). These disorders are passed down through families (inherite...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Ataxic, or broad-based, gait: Acute cerebellar ataxia (uncoordinated muscle movement due to disease or injury to the cerebellum in the brain) Acute cerebellar ataxiaAcute cerebellar ataxia is sudden, uncoordinated muscle movement due to disease or injury to the cerebellum. This is the area in the brain that cont...Read Article Now Book Mark Article Chiari malformation Alcohol intoxication Brain injury Damage to nerve cells in the cerebellum of the brain (cerebellar degeneration) Medicines (phenytoin and other seizure medicines) Polyneuropathy (damage to many nerves, as occurs with diabetes) Stroke Magnetic gait:Disorders that affect the front part of the brain Hydrocephalus (swelling of the brain) HydrocephalusHydrocephalus is a buildup of fluid inside the skull that leads to brain swelling. Hydrocephalus means "water on the brain. "Read Article Now Book Mark Article Home Care Treating the underlying cause often improves the gait. For example, gait abnormalities from trauma to part of the leg will improve as the leg heals.Physical therapy almost always helps with short-term or long-term gait disorders. Therapy will reduce the risk for falls and other injuries.For an abnormal gait that occurs with conversion disorder, counseling and support from family members are strongly recommended.For a propulsive gait:Encourage the person to be as independent as possible. Allow plenty of time for daily activities, especially walking. People with this problem are likely to fall because they have poor balance and are always trying to catch up. Provide walking assistance for safety reasons, especially on uneven ground. See a physical therapist for exercise therapy and walking retraining.For a scissors gait:People with a scissors gait often lose skin sensation. Skin care should be used to avoid skin sores. Leg braces and in-shoe splints can help keep the foot in the right position for standing and walking. A physical therapist can supply these and provide exercise therapy, if needed. Medicines (muscle relaxers, anti-spasticity medicines) can reduce the muscle overactivity.For a spastic gait:Exercises are encouraged. Leg braces and in-shoe splints can help keep the foot in the right position for standing and walking. A physical therapist can supply these and provide exercise therapy, if needed. A cane or a walker is recommended for those with poor balance. Medicines (muscle relaxers, anti-spasticity medicines) can reduce the muscle overactivity.For a steppage gait:Get enough rest. Fatigue can often cause a person to stub a toe and fall. Leg braces and in-shoe splints can help keep the foot in the right position for standing and walking. A physical therapist can supply these and provide exercise therapy, if needed.For a waddling gait, follow the treatment your health care provider prescribed.For a magnetic gait due to hydrocephalus, walking may improve after the brain swelling is treated. When to Contact a Medical Professional If there is any sign of uncontrollable and unexplained gait abnormalities, call your provider. What to Expect at Your Office Visit The provider will take a medical history and perform a physical examination.Medical history questions may include:Time pattern, such as when the problem started, and if it came on suddenly or gradually Type of gait disturbance, such as any of those mentioned above Other symptoms, such as pain and its location, paralysis, whether there's been a recent infection What medicines are being taken Injury history, such as leg, head, or spinal injury Other illnesses such as polio, tumors, stroke, or other blood vessel problems If there have been recent treatments such as vaccinations, surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy Self and family history, such as birth defects, diseases of the nervous system, growth problems, problems of the spine The physical examination will include muscle, bone, and nervous system examination. The provider will decide which tests to do based on the results of the physical examination.Open ReferencesReferencesMagee DJ, Manske RC. Assessment of gait. In: Magee DJ, Manske 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.AllVideoImagesTogRelated Information Dizziness(Symptoms)Central nervous system(Special Topic)Multiple sclerosis(Condition)Cerebral palsy(Condition)Muscular dystrophy(Condition)Myositis(Condition)Arthritis(Condition)Warts(Condition)Bunions(Condition)Ingrown toenail(Condition)Multiple sclerosis(In-Depth)Osteoarthritis(In-Depth) Review Date: 1/28/2021 Reviewed By: Evelyn O. Berman, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics at University of Rochester, Rochester, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. 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