Gait is the process of walking and balance. There are a lot of factors that can contribute to gait changes. Some of them depend on your bones and muscles while others can occur because of some developed conditions. It is extremely important to understand that if your gait has changed, you need to define the exact cause of these issues. Otherwise, you can face more severe complications over time. In this article, we have gathered eight common factors that can make your gait change.
1. Spinal conditions
There are a lot of spinal conditions that can affect not only your gait but also your well-being in general. The most common of them are:
- Spinal cord compression
- Herniated disc
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spinal stenosis
2. Back injuries
If you have fractured your leg, foot, or spine, it can significantly affect your gait. Fractures usually cause severe pain and a limited range of motion that can make it difficult to walk and even sit. It is essential to understand that any fracture should be evaluated and treated by a doctor. Otherwise, you may face serious complications and prolonged treatment.
Arthritis is a medical condition that means inflammation of the joint. It belongs to more than 100 different diseases and is one of the categories of rheumatic diseases. These conditions usually cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in joints and other supporting structures of the body like muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones.
People with arthritis often have gait changes due to pain and limited range of motion. Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis but there are a lot of treatment options that can help manage its symptoms and improve your well-being.
4. Muscle strain
A muscle strain is damage to a muscle or the tendons that attach to it. You may put undue pressure on your muscles during normal daily activities, when lifting heavy objects, during sports, etc. If your muscles are strained, you can experience severe pain that may affect your gait.
Muscle damage can manifest itself as tearing of the muscle fibers and tendons attached to the muscles. A muscle rupture can also damage small blood vessels, causing local bleeding or bruising, as well as pain caused by irritation of the nerve endings in that area.
5. Corns and calluses
Corns and calluses are patches of dry dead skin that occur as a natural reaction of your skin to rubbing or another impact. In most cases, corn and calluses are not painful and can be easily removed with the help of a foot bath and pumice stone. But if corns become inflamed and painful, it is essential to visit a doctor for a corn removal procedure. Otherwise, you can experience discomfort while walking and gait changes.
A bunion is a bing bump that occurs near the big or pinky toe. It develops when the toe joint shifts and moves outside the foot. The most common causes of bunions include heredity, high heels, narrow shoes, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Even though bunions can develop asymptomatically in the early stages, advanced bunions usually cause severe symptoms. Many people with bunions experience severe pain, swelling, redness, inability to wear shoes, and gait changes.
7. Neurologic conditions
The nervous system consists of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. Together they control the work of your body. When something goes wrong with even a single part of your nervous system, you may develop neurologic conditions (like multiple sclerosis or peripheral nerve disorders). They can cause problems with moving, speaking, swallowing, breathing, etc. Additionally, you can develop problems with memory, feelings, or mood.
8. Uncomfortable shoes
It may seem ridiculous but uncomfortable shoes can cause a lot of complications like pain, blisters, swelling, poor posture, and gait changes. If your shoes are too loose or tight, they can lead to corns, calluses, bunions, and many other conditions. Additionally, if you often wear high heels, your gait may also change due to the abnormal load on the ball of the foot.
The bottom line
It is essential to understand that any change or symptoms that occur in your body can be caused by a certain condition. Timely diagnosis and treatment can not only improve your well-being but also prevent the development of serious complications in the future.
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