Walking abnormalities


Walking abnormalities are unusual and uncontrollable walking patterns that are usually due to diseases or injuries to the legs, feet, brain, spinal cord, or inner ear.

Alternative Names

Gait abnormalities


The pattern of how a person walks is called the gait. Many different types of walking problems occur without a person's control. Most, but not all, are due to some physical condition.

Some walking abnormalities have been given names:


Abnormal gait may be caused by diseases in many different areas of the body.

General causes of abnormal gait may include:

This list does not include all causes of abnormal gait.


Home Care

Treating the cause often improves the gait. For example, gait abnormalities from trauma to part of the leg will improve as the leg heals.

Physical therapy almost always helps with short-term or long-term gait disorders. Therapy will reduce the risk of falls and other injuries.

For an abnormal gait that occurs with conversion disorder, counseling and support from family members are strongly recommended.

For a propulsive gait:

For a scissors gait:

For a spastic gait:

For a steppage gait:

For a waddling gait, follow the treatment your health care provider prescribed.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

If there is any sign of uncontrollable and unexplained gait abnormalities, call your health care provider.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

The health care provider will take a medical history and perform a physical examination.

Medical history questions may include:

The physical examination will include muscle, bone, and nervous system examination. The health care provider will decide which tests to do based on the results of the physical examination.


Griggs R, Jozefowicz R, Aminoff M. Approach to the patient with neurologic disease. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 418.

Thompson PD. Gait disorders. In: Bradley WG, Daroff RB, Fenichel GM, Jankovic J, eds. Neurology in Clinical Practice. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Butterworth-Heinemann Elsevier; 2008:chap 24.

Review Date: 2/5/2011
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by Joseph V. Campellone, MD, Division of Neurology, Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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