What are gait and
Gait, the process of walking, and balance are intricate movements. They rely
on proper functioning from several areas of the body, including the:
- sensory nerves
Problems with any of these areas can lead to walking difficulties, falls, or
injury if not addressed. Walking difficulties can be temporary or long-term,
depending on the cause.
of gait and balance problems
The most common symptoms of gait and balance problems include:
- difficulty walking
- trouble with balance
People can experience:
- motion sickness
- double vision
Other symptoms may occur depending on the underlying cause or condition.
What causes gait
and balance problems?
Potential causes of temporary gait or balance complications include:
Longer-term difficulties often result from muscular neurological issues.
Problems with gait, balance, and coordination are often caused by specific
pain or conditions, such as arthritis
cord compression or infarction
- chronic alcohol abuse
- vitamin B12 deficiency
- certain medications, including antihypertensive
Other causes include limited range of motion and fatigue. Muscle weakness
can occur in one or both legs making walking difficult. Foot and leg numbness
can make it difficult to know where your feet are moving or whether they are
touching the floor.
Diagnosing gait and balance problems
A physical and neurological examination can diagnose gait or balance
problems. Your doctor will also ask questions about your symptoms and their
Performance testing can then be used to assess individual gait difficulties.
Further potential tests to identify causes include:
- hearing tests
- inner ear tests
- vision tests, including watching eye movement
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or a computed tomography (CT) scan can
check your brain and spinal cord. Your doctor will look to find which part of
the nervous system is contributing to your gait and balance problems. A nerve conduction study and electromyogram
can be used to evaluate for muscle problems and peripheral neuropathy. You doctor may also order blood tests to
evaluate for causes of balance problems.
gait and balance problems
Treatment for gait and balance issues depends on the cause. Treatments may
include medications and physical therapy. You may require rehabilitation to
learn to move muscles, to compensate for a lack of balance, and learn how to
prevent falls. For vertigo-caused balance issues, you may learn how to position
your head to regain balance.
The prognosis of gait and balance problems is dependent on your underlying
For older adults, in particular, gait and balance problems can cause you to
fall. This can lead to injury, loss of independence, and a change in lifestyle.
In some cases, falls can be fatal.
Be sure to see your doctor to get a thorough examination in order to
identify why you’re having gait and balance difficulties. There are a wide
variety of treatments for all issues.