Gait Abnormality



What is gait abnormality?

Gait abnormality or walking abnormality is when a person is unable to walk in the usual way. Walking may seems to be an uncomplicated activity. However, there are many systems of the body, such as strength, coordination, and sensation, that work together to allow a person to walk with what is considered a normal gait.

When one or more of these interacting systems is not working smoothly, it can result in abnormal gait or walking abnormality.

Abnormal gait is categorized as one of five types based on the symptoms or appearance of an individual’s walk. These include:

  • Spastic gait. Spastic gait occurs when a person drags his or her feet while walking. This type can also make someone appear to be very stiff when walking.
  • Scissors gait. A person whose legs bend inward will often have a scissors gait. With this type, a person’s legs cross and may hit each other while walking. The crisscross motion may resemble scissors opening and closing.
  • Steppage gait. Steppage gait occurs when a person’s toes point towards the ground while walking. Often, the toes will scrape against the ground as the person steps forward.
  • Waddling gait. As the name suggests, a person with a waddling gait moves from side to side when walking. Waddling involves taking short steps as well as swinging the body.
  • Propulsive gait. Propulsive gait is when a person walks with his or her head and neck pushed forward. It can appear as though the person is rigidly holding a slouched position.

In addition to these five types, a person with a limp is also considered to have an abnormal gait. Similarly to other abnormalities, a limp may be either temporary or permanent. A limp may also clear up without medical intervention.

How common is gait abnormality?

Gait abnormality is extremely common. It can occur in patients in any gender at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Which signs and symptoms can gait abnormality usually be associated with?

Related signs and symptoms include:

  • Difficulty walking
  • Trouble with balance
  • Unsteadiness
  • Dizziness
  • Light-headedness
  • Vertigo
  • Motion sickness
  • Double vision


What causes gait abnormality?

Potential causes of temporary gait or balance complications include:

  • Injury
  • Trauma
  • Inflammation
  • Pain

Longer-term difficulties often result from muscular neurological issues.

Problems with gait, balance, and coordination are often caused by specific conditions, including:

  • Joint pain or conditions, such as arthritis
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Brain hemorrhage
  • Brain tumor
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Arnold-Chiari malformation
  • Spinal cord compression or infarction
  • Guillain Barre
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Myopathy
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Gout
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Obesity
  • Chronic alcohol abuse
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Stroke
  • Vertigo
  • Migraines
  • Deformities
  • Certain medications, including antihypertensive drugs

Other causes include limited range of motion and fatigue. Muscle weakness can occur in one or both legs making walking difficult. Foot and leg numbness can make it difficult to know where your feet are moving or whether they are touching the floor.

The conditions mentioned above are some common causes of gait abnormality. Consult with your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for gait abnormality?

Please consult with your doctor for further information.

When to see your doctor

When should I see my doctor?

On noticing one of these symptoms or having any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor to get the best solutions for your situation.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage gait abnormality?

For long-term cases of abnormal gait, it is likely a person will use assistive devices for treatment. These can include:

  • Leg braces
  • Crutches
  • Canes
  • Walker

While treatment cannot always correct an abnormal gait completely, it can at least reduce the severity of symptoms in most cases.

In some cases, there is nothing a person can do to prevent an abnormal gait caused by genetics or a medical condition. People can take steps to prevent injuries that cause an abnormal gait, however.

Preventative steps include:

  • Avoiding the participation in contact sports
  • Wearing protective gear during sports
  • Wearing well-fitting footwear during physical activity
  • Wearing leg braces if needed

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor for the best solutions.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Review Date: February 15, 2019 | Last Modified: February 15, 2019

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