Gait Dysfunction

What is Gait dysfunction?

Gait dysfunction is a change in your normal walking pattern. It can be caused by a number of conditions including injury, arthritis, muscle imbalance or neuromuscular disease. Gait dysfunction may cause pain, numbness, tingling and/or swelling in your foot on lower legs. When this condition persists, it can lead to low back, him and/or knee pain.

Identifying the correct cause of the gait dysfunction requires detailed physical therapy evaluation, computerized gait analysis and examination of footwear. Here at First Choice Rehab, we have seen 80-90% success rate using our program, and physicians we work with report a 60% decrease in surgery rates. Solutions may include orthotics and, in more severe cases, shoe modifications in conjunction with an individualized physical therapy treatment program.

Types of gait dysfunction:

  • Plantar fascitis: This is a painful condition involving the heel and arch. It is caused by inflammation of the soft tissues on the bottom of the due to gait dysfunction.
  • Shin splints: This refers to an overuse/inflammation of the muscle-tendon units in the lower leg causing pain along either the inside or front of the shins. This condition results from improper use of the muscles controlling the foot and ankle usually during running. Untreated, this can lead to stress fractures.
  • Neuromas: These are painful irritations of the nerves in the forefoot causing numbness/tingling and/or burning into the toes resulting from improper loading of the forefoot secondary to a gait dysfunction.
  • Tarsal tunnel: This is a condition resulting from irritation/scarring of the tibial nerve as it runs through the inside of the ankle. This can result in severe foot and ankle pain. Treated appropriately, this condition can be alleviated.
  • Posterior Tibial tendon Dysfunction (PTTD): This is a weakening/rupture of the tendon supporting the arch, resulting in loss of arch support, pain and gait dysfunction.
  • Peripheral Neuropathy: This is a condition where there is decreased nerve function resulting in numbness and sometimes pain and/or weakness in the foot and lower legs. This condition is most frequently caused by diabetes, but can be due to other causes as well. We typically see improvement in this condition with treatment.
  • Ankle/foot fractures, tendonitis, etc: These often leave the foot unstable with poor biomechanics. This results in persisting pain and limited return to activity, even after the normal healing time has passed in conjunction with cessation of activity. We have been very successful in returning patients to their previous activity levels.

Gait dysfunctions can also be caused by pre-existing back conditions, leg length discrepancies and scoliosis. All these conditions can be successfully treated with detailed gait training, specific rehabilitation programs and sometimes orthotic intervention.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended as a substitute for medical care