Abnormality of gait refers to an unusual walking pattern or style. There are many types of gait abnormalities, each with their own name and list of possible causes.
An unusual walking pattern can be caused by diseases of the central nervous system (such as cerebral palsy, Parkinson's disease, or multiple sclerosis), or be the result of an injury or deformity in the brain, spinal cord, legs, feet, or inner ear.
Gait abnormalities are common in young children. The types most often seen are in-toeing (when the feet turn inward) and out-toeing (when the feet turn outward). These conditions are not painful and usually resolve on their own as the child develops.
If a gait abnormality is not self-correcting, a doctor may recommend special shoes, casts, or leg braces. Some cases might require surgery. Physical therapy can help someone with a gait problem learn to walk more easily and safely. A walker or cane might be advised for someone with poor balance.
People with gait abnormalities can be very independent, but they are at higher risk for falls and other injuries. They may need to move at a slower pace and ask for assistance when walking on uneven ground.
All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.
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