By Medicover Hospitals / 9 Feb 2021
A balance disorder is a disturbance that makes a person feel unstable, for example, when standing or walking. A feeling of vertigo or dizziness may accompany it, or have a sensation of movement, spinning or floating.
- What is the abnormal gait?
- Home Remedies
- When to visit a Doctor?
What is the abnormal gait?
An abnormal gait or a walking abnormality is when a person cannot walk in the usual way. This can be because of injuries, underlying conditions, with the legs and feet.
Walking may seem like a simple activity. When one or more of these interacting systems are not working properly, it can result in abnormal gait or gait abnormality.
An unsteady gait can encompass several different signs. Examples include:
People with chronic unsteady gait often have a wide stance when walking. They can walk slowly and show caution when walking, and they can even stumble.
- dizziness or vertigo when walking
- shuffling when walking
- instability or lack of balance
Types of Abnormal Gaits:
Abnormal gait is classified as one of five types based on a person's symptoms or appearance of gait are:
Besides these five types, a person with a limp is also considered to have an abnormal gait. Like other abnormalities, lameness can be temporary or permanent. A limp can also disappear without medical intervention.
- spastic gait
- scissors gait
- steppage gait
- waddling gait
- propulsive gait
Sometimes a person may have difficulty walking because of an acute problem, such as a bruise, cut, or fracture. These may also cause them to limp or walk differently, but aren't considered as the causes of abnormal gait.
But several diseases can attack the nervous system and legs, causing abnormal gait. Some more common causes of abnormal gait include:
Long-term difficulties are often the result of neurological muscle problems.
Problems with gait, balance, and coordination are frequently due to particular conditions, including:
Other reasons encompass a restricted range of movement and fatigue. Muscle weakness can arise in a single or each leg, making the walk difficult.
Numbness in the feet and legs can make it difficult to tell where the feet are moving or if they are touching the floor.
- joint pain or conditions, such as arthritis
- multiple sclerosis (MS)
- meniere's disease
- brain hemorrhage
- brain tumor
- parkinson's disease
- chiari malformation (CM)
- compression or infarction of the spinal cord
- guillain-Barré syndrome
- peripheral neuropathy
- cerebral palsy (CP)
- muscular dystrophy
- chronic alcohol abuse
- vitamin B-12 deficiency
- certain medications, including antihypertensives
Your doctor will first take a medical history and ask what medications you are taking. It is also important to report if you have a history of falls or near falls, as well as any history of alcohol or recreational drug use. A nerve conduction study and an electromyogram can evaluate muscle problems and peripheral neuropathy. Your doctor may also order blood tests to evaluate the causes of balance problems.
Your doctor will also evaluate your gait to see how you walk. You may be asked to walk from head to toe. Other considerations are posture, stride length, and whether you need help walking.
Your doctor can rate your gait using a scale known as the Functional Ambulation Rating Scale. This scale rates your gait on a scale of zero to five, with five being a person who can walk independently and without the help of others.
Performance tests can be used to assess individual gait difficulties. Other possible tests to identify causes include:
Then a doctor will consider whether you have related symptoms that may require additional testing. These may include:
- hearing tests
- inner ear tests
- vision tests, including observation of eye movement
Diagnosis and Testing methods may vary because the causes can be many of an unsteady gait. An MRI or CT scan can test your brain and spinal cord. Your doctor will look for which part of the nervous system is contributing to your gait and balance problems.
- blood pressure checks in lying, sitting, and standing positions
- blood tests to detect hemoglobin levels, thyroid function, electrolytes, blood glucose, and vitamin B-12 tests
- cognitive function tests
- depression detection
- eye exams
Treatments may include medications and physical therapy. A doctor may prescribe medication to reduce unsteady gait if you have the following conditions:
Some conditions may require surgery to correct the cause of unsteady gait. These include conditions of the spine, such as lumbar spinal stenosis and cervical stenosis.
Other treatments may include hearing aids for hearing problems, canes or walkers to aid walking, and vision correction with glasses or a new prescription for glasses. If an underlying condition is the cause of an abnormal gait, a person's walking should correct itself when the condition is treated. This is usually true for broken bones, as they can be treated with a cast.
Other injuries may require surgery or physical therapy to help the gait return to normal.
For long-term cases of abnormal gait, a person is likely to use assistive devices for treatment. These may include:
- Orthostatic Hypertension
- Parkinson's Disease
- Rhythm Disorders
- Vitamin B-12 deficiency
While treatment is not fully able to treat an abnormal gait, it may at the least reduce the severity of signs in a maximum number of cases.
Some people may also get benefit from physical therapy services to assist them in learning to walk with a foot problem, including foot numbness.
You may need rehabilitation to learn how to move your muscles, compensate for poor balance, and learn how to prevent falls. For balance problems caused by vertigo, you can learn to position your head to regain balance.
- leg braces
- walking sticks
When to visit a Doctor?
Make an appointment with your doctor if you've recently fallen or if your unsteady gait makes you feel like you might fall. Take steps to stay safe and reduce the risk of future injury along with any of the following signs:
- An injury fall or head fall
- Cannot speak clearly
- Shortness of breath
- Fallen on one side of the face
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Occurs after a head injury
- Severe, stabbing headache
- Sudden confusion
- Sudden numbness in one or more parts of the body
- Sudden change in gait pattern
Since foot drop can increase the risk of tripping and falling, consider taking these precautions at home:
- Keep all floors clear
- Avoid using rugs
- Keep electrical cords out of hallways
- Make sure rooms and stairs are well lit
- Place the fluorescent tape on the upper and lower steps of the stairs
Frequently Asked Questions:
Problems with gait, balance, and coordination are frequently due to specific conditions, such as ache or joint conditions, including arthritis. Multiple sclerosis (MS) Meniere's disease.
Vitamin D can improve muscle strength and function as well as balance due to improved strength.
The cerebellum, at the back of the brain, controls balance, coordination, and control of fine muscles (eg, walking). It additionally works to hold posture and balance.
A functional movement disorder means that there may be abnormal movement or positioning of part of the body due to the nervous system not working properly (but not because of underlying neurological disease). A kind of gait (walking) problems can arise as a part of a purposeful disease.
Gait Disturbance in Alzheimer's Disease: A Clinical Study - https://academic.oup.com/ageing/article/25/4/313/30966
Cholinergic dysfunction contributes to gait disturbance in early Parkinson’s disease - https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/135/9/2779/329091
Cortical activation following a balance disturbance - https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00221-003-1744-6