We are programmed to notice differences, so when someone has an odd motion or foot position while walking, you wonder what might be causing it. Gait analysis is one way to find out, and there are many types of testing—from a podiatrist watching your toddler walking to a trainer checking your pronation on a treadmill to help you improve your stride.
Having an abnormal gait could be due to more than your biomechanics, however. For instance, some gait problems are given names and are caused by specific conditions, including the following:
- Scissors or spastic – a slight crouching form with knees and thighs that cross or bump each other. This can be caused by brain trauma or tumor, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis (MS), spinal cord issues, and even liver failure or pernicious anemia, among other conditions.
- Foot drop – when the front of the foot hangs down or drags on the ground from conditions like polio, peripheral neuropathy, MS, spinal cord injury or herniated disk, or even weak shin bone muscles.
- Waddling – side-to-side movements as you walk. This could indicate conditions like muscular dystrophy, congenital hip problems, or other muscle disease.
Various causes for gait problems have to do specifically with your brain (think stroke, concussion, dementia or Alzheimer’s, and others), your nerves (Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis), your circulation (peripheral vascular disease), or your muscles (dystrophies, cerebral palsy).
Then there are the day-to-day problems you can run into, such as fractures, tendonitis, sprains and strains. These may cause you to adjust your stride temporarily while they heal, which can put strain on other parts of your body. Inherited characteristics like flat feet, short tendons, a tendency to foot deformities, and pronation patterns can also greatly affect your stride. So can complications from diseases like arthritis and diabetes.
As you can see, there could be a multitude of reasons for abnormal gait patterns. That’s why you need experts like our foot doctors at Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona to help you sort it out and find a specific treatment that works for you. If you notice anything unusual about your walk, give our office in Chandler, AZ a call at (480) 963-9000, or reach our Gilbert location at (480) 981-1800 and set up a consultation. Our goal is first to rule out (or confirm) one of the serious problems we’ve discussed, and then to help your stride be as efficient and pain free as possible.