Have you noticed that you can’t seem to get rid of your limp since rolling your ankle? Do you find that the more your back hurts, the worse your gait becomes? We walk differently for various reasons, most of which can be resolved with physical therapy at Integrity Therapy Group in Florence, AL!
Gait is defined as a person’s walking pattern. Walking requires precise timing and coordination of muscles, joints, and nerves in order for the body to propel forward rhythmically. Our stride differs from person to person based on height, weight, health status, and even culture.
An abnormal gait can be caused by a variety of factors. Some common causes include:
- Joint degeneration/arthritis
- Neurological conditions (i.e., Parkinson’s, degenerative nerve diseases, stroke, etc.).
- Vestibular disorders/vertigo
- Injuries to the spine and/or lower extremity
- Muscle disorders (i.e., weakness, muscle wasting associated with age)
Nobody wants to walk in pain or with shakiness. Fortunately, the physical therapists at Integrity Therapy Group are experts at identifying and treating common gait-related conditions. We will provide you with the tools you need to regain your walking ability and get back to doing what you enjoy!
WHAT EXACTLY IS A GAIT DISORDER?
Gait abnormalities are changes in your walking and running patterns caused by irregular motions. Minor issues, such as foot problems or wearing ill-fitting shoes, can disrupt our normal gait and potentially lead to dysfunction and the development of a gait disorder.
Gait disorders are extremely common in the adult population, with studies revealing that more than 60% of people over the age of 80 have a gait disorder. Balance, shuffling, frequent falls, staggering, and freezing in place are all symptoms of gait disorders.
Our gait can be affected by neurological or non-neurological causes. The following are the most common causes:
- Neurological conditions (i.e., sensory or motor impairments)
- Orthopedic problems (i.e., osteoarthritis, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, and other skeletal deformities)
- Medical conditions (i.e., heart failure, respiratory insufficiency, peripheral arterial occlusive disease, and obesity)
These abnormalities may worsen with age, but changes in gait can occur at any age. Fortunately, our physical therapists are experts at determining the root cause of your problems and will address all of the factors preventing you from walking normally.
WHAT FACTORS CONTRIBUTE TO GAIT DISORDERS?
A problem with your balance or gait may be caused or exacerbated by underlying medical conditions or orthopedic and neurological issues. Fortunately, our therapist can assist you in regaining function and correcting your gait.
The following are some of the most common causes of gait problems:
A variety of neurological conditions can cause gait problems. Possible causes include a brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, or a stroke. Some neurological disorders begin in childhood, while others develop with age.
The following are the most common conditions affecting children:
Cerebral palsy, Muscular dystrophy, Charcot Marie Tooth disease, and Brain tumors.
The most common affecting adults include:
Multiple sclerosis (MS), Stroke, Brain tumor, Parkinson’s disease, and Spinal cord compression.
Our therapists at Integrity Therapy Group in Florence, AL can assess your gait and provide you with tools and strategies to ensure your safety and restore your function to its maximum potential.
The most common causes of non-neurological gait disorders in adults are osteoarthritis and skeletal deformities/injuries of the lower extremities. A sudden injury, disease, accident, or condition that causes changes in joint range of motion, muscle weakness, or avoidance of weight-bearing (aka limping) can disrupt your normal gait and negatively impact your normal functioning can disrupt your normal gait and negatively impact your normal functioning.
A limited range of motion, weakness, changes in stride length, cadence, asymmetrical stepping, or limping are all symptoms of orthopedic gait disorders.
Medical conditions are also linked to changes in gait and an increased risk of gait-related injuries. The following are the most common medical conditions:
Heart failure, Respiratory insufficiency, including COPD, Peripheral arterial occlusive disease, Peripheral vascular disease, and Obesity.
When our cardiovascular and respiratory systems are compromised, our gait often suffers. Our physical therapists, fortunately, are well-versed in all body systems and how they affect your gait.
INTEGRITY THERAPY GROUP CAN HELP YOU RECOVER FROM GAIT DISORDERS!
One of the most effective treatments for all gait disorders is physical therapy. When you arrive for your first appointment at Integrity Therapy Group, our physical therapists will conduct a thorough assessment.
Our physical therapist will examine your entire body to determine the factors that are contributing to your condition. We will include a range of motion and strength tests for your joints. We will also perform movement screenings to determine how your body moves in specific patterns, such as your gait pattern.
Your evaluation results will guide your personalized treatment plan. We will tailor our strategy to meet your specific needs. Our physical therapists commonly use the following techniques and exercises.
Stretching in the clinic and at home will help you increase your range of motion in all of the joints that may be limiting your natural gait. We will also include whole-body mobility work to help you improve your movement control, keep your muscles working properly, and reduce your risk of injury.
Strength in the core and lower extremities is essential for normal gait. Weakness in the hips and pelvis can have a significant impact on your normal gait pattern and should be addressed as soon as possible.
Other muscle weaknesses can affect your stride length and cadence, making you more prone to falls and injuries as a result of them. Our team will identify any areas of weakness and provide you with targeted exercises to address them and restore your functional gait.
Learning proper movement techniques, also known as retraining, can sometimes correct gait abnormalities. Based on your gait, your therapists will give you specific cues and instructions.
Drills can range from simple weight shifts for people who struggle to bear all of their weight on one leg to advanced cues about foot placement with eyes forward.
In some cases, your therapist may use exaggerated movements of the head, arms, trunk, and lower extremities to stimulate the nervous system and re-calibrate the systems’ interactions. This type of therapy can also improve the gait patterns of runners.
Our musculoskeletal system’s intricate timing necessitates balance and coordination working in tandem to achieve the rhythmic stride we use when walking.
Drills can range from simple single-leg balancing to complex ladder drills requiring high levels of coordination across the entire body and its systems.
Using an assistive device to achieve the safest, most effective gait is sometimes necessary. A physical therapist typically selects an assistive device based on its level of stability.
From most stable to least stable, the following are typical devices:
Walker, Rolling walker, Quad cane (i.e., cane with four prongs on the bottom), Crutches (i.e., axillary or lofstrand), Standard cane, and Hiking Sticks.
In the clinic, your therapist will assess you to determine which device will benefit you and fit you appropriately to ensure your safety. Your therapist will then practice using the device with you until you are comfortable using it on your own.
FOR ASSISTANCE WITH GAIT DISORDERS, CONTACT INTEGRITY THERAPY GROUP
Do you have trouble walking normally? If this is the case, it is crucial that you seek assistance! Integrity’s physical therapists can show you the most effective ways to improve your walking abilities, allowing you to get back to doing what you love as soon as possible!
To find the relief you’ve been looking for, make an appointment with Integrity Therapy Group today.
Please call us at (256) 764-1442.