Some people have an unsteady gait from the time they learn to walk, or they may develop an unsteady gait following an injury or an illness. However, if you notice your walk changing slowly over time, you may wonder what’s going on.
In some instances a changing gait can be caused by underlying factors such as a vitamin deficiency or the development of a disease like Parkinson’s. However, the experts at Dr. Louis Keppler and Associates see many patients who are experiencing gait changes related to orthopedic reasons such as spinal stenosis, arthritis, or even podiatric issues such as corns or bunions.
Common gait problems
There are lots of ways walking can go wrong. If you consider just how many parts of your body must coordinate for you to walk steadily, you’ll see how complex this simple activity is! Your brain is involved, keeping you steady and aware of where you are in space, so neurological problems can certainly cause an unsteady gait.
The muscles, bones, and joints from your feet to your hips need to be working properly, and problems like injuries or infections can affect how you move when you walk.
Walking with your head or neck lowered or bent over affects your gait. We also see patients who drag, drop, or shuffle their feet and develop issues walking. You may find yourself taking smaller steps, moving your body side-to-side when you walk, or walking more slowly and stiffly than you typically move.
Problems with your gait limit your mobility, and that can present a whole host of problems. Depending on the cause of your gait change, we may be able to help. Following are a few of the issues that we treat that may disrupt your walking pattern.
Arthritis can affect just about any joint in your body, and there are many different types of the disease. Osteoarthritis, which is usually caused by aging, is the most common, and one of the joints most often affected is the knee joint. Osteoarthritis of the knee can cause gait changes.
There’s no cure for arthritis, but there are treatments that can slow the progression of the disease. Strengthening the structures that support your joints can also help you stay moving.
Your spinal cord runs through your spinal canal. If inflammation, injury, or disease cause your spinal canal to narrow, it can press on the nerves of the spinal cord. This condition is called spinal stenosis. It most often happens in the cervical spine, or your neck, or the lumbar spine, your lower back.
Spinal stenosis can be painful, and it can also affect how you walk. We offer treatments such as physical therapy, medications, or corticosteroid injections that can help. In some instances, surgery is the best treatment.
Many problems with your feet can lead to a changing gait. For example, bunions can change how you walk as you try to avoid pain. Your feet are amazing, and they work hard. Dr. Michael Canales is a podiatric foot and ankle surgeon and can diagnose and treat issues with your feet.
If you’ve noticed that your gait is changing, schedule an appointment at Dr. Louis Keppler and Associates. Understanding why your walk has changed and finding out what you can do about it can help preserve your mobility so that you can continue to do the things you enjoy.