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10 Signs You May Need Gait Assessment and Correction



10 Signs You May Need Gait Assessment and Correction

Have you recently noticed that your usual style or ease of walking seems slightly off? Are you experiencing unusual muscle pain in your feet or you’re feeling off balance?

If you’ve answered yes to those questions, it may be time to visit a Noosa physiotherapy centre for a gait assessment and potential correction. If you’re not sure about the cause of your symptoms, or even really what your gait is and how it affects your daily life, your first course of action should be to read on below.


What is Your Gait?

While it may look as though we all generally walk the same, each person’s walking style is unique to them. Essentially, your gait refers to the way and the pattern that you naturally walk. Your gait is determined by the way that your foot bones function to keep you moving.

Over time, or as a result of injury, these bones can become vulnerable to different stresses. This in turn can lead to discomfort, pain and compensatory movement patterns. Without treatment, this can eventually lead to disability. Treatment usually involves a professional examining your gait during simple walking or running to determine the extent of the treatment required.


More Common as You Age

While many gait issues are related to injuries or medical conditions, it’s important to note that gait abnormalities become more common as you get older. At least 15% of affected people start experiencing gait difficulties by the age of 60. Furthermore, more than 80% of people over the age of 85 will have developed an abnormal gait.


Crucial Signs to Look Out for

As mentioned above, certain injuries can affect your unique style of walking and it’s not only foot injuries that play a role. Certain injuries to other significant body parts can also affect your gait.

The most prominent body parts that can affect your gait include:

  • Brain
  • Spinal cord
  • Neck
  • Hips
  • Legs
  • Feet

Injuries or conditions affecting these body parts don’t necessarily have to be severe to be life-changing.

There are usually six significant signs that are a clear indication that you have developed an abnormal gait. Look out for these signs:

  1. Sudden or unexplained limping.
  2. Shuffling your feet.
  3. Suddenly moving around using shorter steps.
  4. Dragging your toes.
  5. Unexplained difficulty in supporting the weight of your body.
  6. Recently developed trouble with coordination.
  7. Pain in your feet when walking or running.
  8. Stiff joints and muscles in your hips and legs.
  9. Feeling off balance when walking.
  10. Having to take higher than normal steps to walk and dropping your feet with each step (this is commonly referred to as “drop foot”)


General Causes of an Abnormal Gait

The most common causes of developing an abnormal gait are:

  • Age-related joint pain.
  • A recent injury which usually includes bone fractures or sprains.
  • Wearing ill-fitting shoes for long periods of time.
  • Sores on your feet, such as:
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Corns
  • Calluses
  • Warts
  • Unresolved inner ear conditions such as bacterial or viral infections.
  • Nerve damage caused by injury.

In addition to these injuries, other underlying health conditions can also result in gait abnormalities. A few of the more prominent conditions to factor into your initial medical assessment are:

  • Stroke
  • Arthritis
  • Herniated disk
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Hemiplegia
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Recent knee or hip replacements
  • Neck sprains or other neck-related conditions

It’s also important to remember that an abnormal gait can often be related to more than one health challenge. This is especially prominent in individuals who have experienced more than one injury or if there is an existing medical condition at the time of injury.


Don’t Ignore Sudden Gait Problems

If you suddenly develop a gait problem, it’s important to not ignore this issue. No matter how insignificant it may seem, certain complications can develop if ignored. Moreover, these issues don’t disappear on their own but will rather lead to more pain and discomfort.

The most common complications to be aware of include the following:

  • Chronic pain, which will require continuous medication.
  • Eventual inability to walk or run.
  • Muscle weakness over time which can become permanent and affect other limbs and organs.
  • Increased risk of injuries and falls, which can have more severe health effects if you’re over 60 or already have mobility issues.


Final Thoughts

Once you consult an expert medical practitioner about your gait issues, they will not only assess potential causes but will also recommend relevant physical therapy and strengthening exercises and even recommend adjusting footwear to accommodate any underlying conditions you may have. Taking the initiative to consult with an expert is a step in the right direction and should be done as soon as possible!