Treating Unsteady Gait

Unsteady gait is used to describe when someone is having trouble with their balance or the way they walk. You're probably pretty familiar with how you normally walk, so what is causing you to lose your balance now? Why are you falling much more than usual? Podiatrists call this an unsteady gait and it means just that: you are not walking in a steady way.

The definition, however, is a lot more cut-and-dried than the potential causes. Unsteady gait can arise from many different diseases, conditions, and syndromes. Once a medical professional has properly diagnosed your case, it is possible to devise a plan to treat your unsteady gait.

walking balance problems

Common Causes of Unsteady Gait

Unsteady gait can be the result of any number of issues, so this is not a full list, but these are some of the more common causes we see in our Surprise office.

  • Muscle Weakness. Muscle weakness can be tied to much bigger problems, including neurological diseases, injuries, or stroke.
  • Peripheral Neuropathy. Common in diabetics and individuals suffering from alcoholism, peripheral neuropathy involves damage to the nerves. This can cause unsteady gait simply because you cannot completely feel your feet when you are walking, or because you are suffering from a foot ulcer or other condition you don't know is there.
  • Drop Foot. Drop foot is when you have trouble lifting the front part of your foot. The result: you tend to drag your foot on the ground when you walk. Like muscle weakness, drop foot (or foot drop), is the result of an existing neurological, anatomical, or muscular issue.
  • Arthritis. When you have arthritis (inflammation of the joints), you will also have breakdown of some cartilage. When the cartilage in your lower extremities begins to wear away, it can have a big effect on how you walk.
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disorder. This is a hereditary disorder that affects the nerves in your arms and legs. You will usually have weak muscles and limited sensation or feeling in your extremities.
  • Central Nervous System Disorders. Central nervous system disorders affect either the brain or spinal cord and can be quite serious. There are many disorders, but common ones include Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis and Huntington's disease.

Unsteady Gait and Balance Symptoms and Signs

Signs you are dealing with balance or gait problems include an increase in falls, feeling dizzy or lightheaded, vision changes, and an increase in tripping or stumbling. Unsteady gait caused by foot or ankle problems can increase slips and falls. These falls can become more severe and impact all areas of your life. You should visit your podiatrist to get treatment for any foot or ankle issues.

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Preventing Injuries From Unsteady Gait

Unsteady gait can be the cause of serious foot and ankle injuries and trauma. There are ways to decrease slips and falls while dealing with unsteady gait. Wearing the correct size shoe and the correct shoe for your activity can help to limit falls. Decrease falls in the home by noticing any unlevel flooring or carpet bumps, limit furniture to along the wall, and make sure there is adequate lighting. Take safety measures to limit slips and falls. 

Contact Fixing Feet Institute to Treat Your Unsteady Gait

Although unsteady gait may be linked to conditions we treat in our office, such as peripheral neuropathy or a foot fracture, it may also surface because of a serious underlying medical issue. If you suspect you are suffering from some sort of neurological problem or that you may have had a stroke, consult a trained medical professional that specializes in one of those areas first. Once you have been properly diagnosed, we will be happy to treat your unsteady gait and get you on the road to recovery.

Contact our Arizona foot care clinic today to set up an appointment by calling 623-584-5556, or contacting us online here. 

Photo Credit: Mohamed Nuzrath VIA


Dr. Viedra V. Elison
Founder and Managing Partner of Fixing Feet Institute

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Surprise, AZ Office
  • 14823 West Bell Road, #100
    Surprise, AZ 85374
  • Phone: 623-584-5556
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