If the way you walk has changed, you probably feel a little confused as to what happened. Most changes in gait are related to underlying medical issues, diseases or injuries that you may or may not be aware of. Even if you know you have a chronic medical condition, you might not recognize that it is linked to an unsteady gait. Experienced podiatrists see patients who suffer from several different abnormal gaits all the time, but there are five especially distinct unsteady gaits:

  • Spastic Gait. Someone with a spastic gait will have stiff, weak legs and will drag his feet or toes as he walks. He will also usually hold his legs closer together and not have much flexibility in the knees or ankles. Common Causes: Cerebral palsy, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and brain or spinal cord tumors.
  • Waddling Gait. This walk is almost duck-like. It is characterized by exaggerated lateral trunk movements and hip elevations. Common Causes: Pregnancy, hip disorders such as congenital hip dysplasia, and muscular dystrophy.
  • Steppage Gait. This gait is associated with drop foot, which is when you drag your foot and/or toes as you walk. Many times someone with a steppage gait will raise their thigh up in an exaggerated way when they walk. Common Causes: Gullain-Barre syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and peroneal nerve trauma or atrophy.
  • Scissors Gait. Scissors gait almost explains itself: when you walk, your legs move almost like scissors. Each leg swings at the knee and forward as you walk. Common Causes: Cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, or spinal cord trauma.
  • Propulsive Gait. People with a propulsive gait will have a stiff, stooped-over posture. They tend to carry the head and neck bent forward. Common Causes: Parkinson's disease, carbon monoxide or manganese poisoning, or the use of certain drugs.

If any of these unsteady gaits seem to match something you are currently experiencing, contact Fixing Feet Institute in Surprise, Arizona at 623-584-5556 or e-mail us at [email protected] to schedule an appointment and get a physical examination.

Dr. Peyman A. Elison
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Founder and Managing Partner of Fixing Feet Institute