Abnormality of Gait

There are many types of gait abnormalities, including propulsive gait (stooped posture), scissors gait (legs flexed slightly with knees and thighs hitting or crisscrossing in a scissors-like pattern), spastic gait (stiff, with foot-dragging), steppage gait (dropped foot with the toes scraping the ground), and waddling gait (a duck-like walk). Some of the causes of gait abnormality include arthritis, conversion disorder, foot problems, fractures, soreness of the legs or buttox, infection, injury, different leg lengths, myositis, shin splints, shoe problems, tendonitis, and testis torsion. Muscle weakness and imbalance also can lead to gait abnormality. Physical therapy can be an effective treatment for gait abnormalities. On a person’s first visit to therapy, the physical therapist will conduct a symptom and medical history review before observing the individual’s walk. The physical therapist also may perform specific tests to check nerve and muscle function. Based on the results of the initial evaluation, the physical therapist will develop a treatment plan (a.k.a. a plan of care), which may include manual therapy and exercises designed to strengthen weak muscles and correct gait abnormalities. Depending on the type and severity of the condition, he or she also may prescribe an assistive device, such as a cane, leg brace, crutches, or a walker.