What are they?
Gait abnormalities can be a number of things that cause you to have a gait issue that is not normal. The could be defined as a limp, a “dead leg”, or dragging of your foot to name a few. Gait abnormalities account for nearly one in five falls in older adults.
Information on what causes them?
These abnormalities can be caused by a variety of issues. They could be an injury to muscle, bone, ligament or tendon. They could be an injury to some part of the nervous system. They could be from an issue that was present at birth, such as cerebral palsy or club foot, or a newly diagnosed condition later in life, such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease.
The signs and symptoms?
The signs and symptoms of these issues could include pain, swelling, inability to bear weight without compensation, popping, clicking, decreased motion and flexibility, decreased power, and strength, decreased sensation, burning or tingling are just a few to name.
Physical therapy will initially focus on analyzing your gait pattern and working to determine what the cause of your gait abnormality is. Some gait issues are fixable by addressing the system that is causing the issue. Some gait issues are correctable by using compensatory patterns or assistive devices to make your gait more efficient and safer. Some gait issues are not correctable but can be made safer for you to get around in your home or community with the help of a physical therapist. Physical therapists are movement experts and can help you improve your quality of movement and quality of life.
At your first visit you should expect a physical therapist that is there to get to know you, your current complaints, and your goals. Using this information and the information they gather during their evaluation they will set up an individualized treatment plan that will help you reach your goals and get back to your life faster. Treatments could include modalities for pain control, manual therapy to help with muscle, soft tissue, and joint healing, and exercises to restore motion and strength all aimed at addressing your gait abnormalities and ultimately the goals that you define that are important to you.