The process of walking and balancing are intricate movements termed as gait. They rely on the proper functioning from several areas of the body. These include the eyes, ears, brain and muscles. If not addressed or thoroughly assessed, these problematic areas can lead to walking difficulties, falls, or injuries.
Depending on the cause, walking difficulties may be temporary or long-term. Gait and balance disorders cause major walking problems. Simple tests for gait and balance can be administered in just a few minutes. What takes more time, according to expert physiotherapists, is figuring out the root causes of gait disorders.
In addition to signaling existing health problems, gait disorders, if left untreated can lead to new difficulties.
Causes of Gait and Balance Problems:
Long term difficulties often result from muscular neurological issues. Potential causes of temporary gait and balance problems include trauma, injury, inflammation or pain. Problems with gait, balance, and coordination are often caused by specific conditions, which include:
Vitamin B12 deficiency, obesity, chronic alcohol abuse, and stroke are other causes. The condition may also be the result of vertigo, migraines, deformities and certain medications including antihypertensives. Gait and balance problems can be a result of pain, muscles weakness, muscle tightness or spasticity, poor posture or loss of balance. Muscle weakness can occur in one leg or both, and make walking difficult. Foot numbness makes it difficult to know where the feet are moving or whether they are touching the floor.
The most common symptoms of gait and balance problems include difficulty walking, trouble with balance, and unsteadiness. Patients can experience dizziness, light-headedness, vertigo, motion sickness, or double vision. Other symptoms may occur depending on the underlying cause or condition.
A physical and neurological examination can diagnose gait or balance problems easily. Doctors typically also ask questions about symptoms and severity.
Treating Unsteady Gait:
Treatments may include medications and physical therapy, or rehabilitation to learn to function or compensate for lack of balance. Affected persons may also be taught how to prevent falls by their professional physiotherapist. If you suffer from vertigo, you may learn how to position your head to regain balance.
Falls in older adults, due to gait and balance problems, are a common cause of mortality and morbidity, and can lead to injury, loss of independence, and change in lifestyle. If you know anybody in your family or among your friends who has an unsteady gait, you can contact our professional physiotherapists, who will help you recover proper gait and balance.