Balanced Strides: How Chiropractic Care Corrects Gait Disturbances

by | Jun 5, 2024 | 0 comments

8 min read

Think about the last time you felt unsteady on your feet—maybe after a long day at work or a particularly intense workout. 

That uneasy feeling can make even simple activities, like grocery shopping or playing with your kids, challenging. 

Gait disturbances, or abnormalities in how a person walks, can significantly impact their quality of life and overall physical health. 

Chiropractic care offers a non-invasive solution to correct these disturbances and restore balanced movement. 

This article explores the nature of gait abnormalities, their effects on daily activities, and the role of chiropractic treatments in addressing these issues.

What Are Gait Abnormalities?

Gait abnormalities occur when someone’s walk doesn’t feel right. This might be due to neurological disorders, weak muscles, something off with the bones, or injuries. These changes can make walking awkward or unstable, often causing discomfort or pain. 

Even simple things like getting around the house, running errands, or hanging out with friends can become cumbersome and tiring. This can be frustrating and interfere with someone’s independence and how they enjoy life.

These walking issues throw off your balance, making it easier to trip or stumble, which can be especially risky on stairs or uneven surfaces. It’s not just about the physical discomfort—this can also affect your mood and energy levels. 

Constantly worrying about falling or dealing with pain can make anyone feel down. If getting out becomes a chore, it might lead to feeling left out or isolated, which is tough on mental health.

4 Ways Gait Disorders Impact Daily Life

4 ways gait disorders impact daily life

Gait disorders can significantly disrupt your daily routine and quality of life. Here are four ways these walking issues can affect you:

  1. Everyday Mobility: Simple tasks like walking across a room, climbing stairs, or standing for a while can become challenging and exhausting. This can slow you down and make you more cautious.
  2. Increased Risk of Falls: A disturbed gait can make once-easy activities risky, increasing the chances of falls and injuries. This might lead to needing more help or feeling unsafe doing things on your own, which can diminish your sense of independence.
  3. Dependency on Others: As mobility decreases, you may rely more on others for help with daily tasks. This can be frustrating and may affect your confidence and self-reliance.
  4. Reduced Social Interaction: Struggling with walking can make you less likely to participate in social activities or go out, leading to a more sedentary lifestyle. This withdrawal can cause feelings of isolation and loneliness, impacting your emotional well-being.

The ongoing challenges of a gait disorder can affect how you live, limiting your ability to enjoy activities and reducing your overall quality of life. Over time, this can lead to a decline in mental and physical health.

10 Types of Gait Disorders

10 types of gait disorders

A variety of gait disorders exist, each with unique characteristics:

  1. Ataxic Gait: A walking disorder characterized by unsteady and uncoordinated movements, often resulting from cerebellar dysfunction. This disorder can make it challenging to maintain a steady pace, causing individuals to stagger or sway while walking. The lack of coordination and balance can also increase the risk of falls, making everyday activities more hazardous.
  2. Antalgic Gait: When someone limps because of pain, this is called an antalgic gait. It’s a body’s natural response to minimize the weight of the affected limb, which can be due to injuries, inflammation, or infections affecting the legs or feet.
  3. Crouching Gait: This gait disorder is characterized by excessive bending of the knees and hips and is often observed in individuals with cerebral palsy. It’s a way the body maintains balance and stability, though it can be strenuous and inefficient for movement.
  4. Lurching Gait: Often linked to musculoskeletal issues, this gait disorder involves a staggering or heavy staggering movement. It’s commonly seen in individuals with muscle weakness or those who have had a stroke, affecting their ability to walk smoothly.
  5. Propulsive Gait: This rapid, shuffling type of walk is most commonly associated with Parkinson’s disease. People with this gait disorder appear to be pushed forward as they walk, with their bodies bent and heads leaning forward.
  6. Scissors Gait: This gait disorder causes the legs to cross or brush against each other in a scissor-like movement. It’s often seen in conditions like cerebral palsy or after a stroke, where control over leg muscles is reduced.
  7. Shuffling Gait: Common in older adults, this gait disorder involves dragging the feet while walking as if the feet are stuck to the ground. It’s often seen in people with fatigue, weakness, or neurological conditions.
  8. Spastic Gait: Characterized by stiff, dragging movements, this gait disorder results from long-term muscle contraction. It can be seen in conditions such as multiple sclerosis or after a brain injury, where specific muscles are continuously contracted.
  9. Steppage Gait: This involves a high-stepping walk, usually because of peripheral nerve damage. Individuals with this gait disorder lift their feet higher than usual to prevent the toes from catching on the ground, often due to muscle weakness or loss of nerve function in the lower legs.
  10. Waddling Gait: A duck-like walk that may indicate underlying muscle weakness, particularly in the hip girdle. This gait is often observed in muscular dystrophy and other conditions that affect the proximal muscles.

Each gait type points to different underlying health issues and can significantly impact a person’s mobility and quality of life. Understanding and addressing the specific characteristics of these gait disorders is crucial for effective treatment and improved mobility.

How Does Chiropractic Care Help Correct Gait Issues?
Chiropractic Care for Gait Abnormalities

Chiropractic care can be a game-changer for anyone struggling with abnormal gait issues. It gets to the heart of the problem by fixing alignment and boosting how well your joints move. 

When a chiropractor works their magic through adjustments and manipulations, it can ease the pain, help you coordinate your movements better, and make you more mobile overall. 

This means you can start walking more naturally and efficiently again without all the struggle and discomfort.

How Can Chiropractic Adjustments Influence Gait?

Chiropractic adjustments can make a difference in how you walk. 

Misalignments in the spine can affect the entire musculoskeletal system, leading to poor posture and gait abnormalities. Chiropractic adjustments realign the spine, promoting better posture and reducing strain on the legs and feet, which can enhance your walking pattern.

Misalignments, or subluxations, can pressure nerves, disrupting the signals between your brain and muscles. By adjusting the spine and relieving this pressure, chiropractors improve nerve function, ensuring better communication and coordination of movements.

Restricted joint movement can cause compensatory patterns in your gait, leading to inefficiencies and discomfort. Chiropractic adjustments increase the range of motion in your joints, allowing for smoother and more efficient walking.

Imbalances and tension in muscles can alter your gait. Chiropractic care includes soft tissue therapy and exercises to relax and strengthen muscles, ensuring they work harmoniously to support a balanced gait.

The pelvis is a crucial area that affects leg length and overall balance. Chiropractic adjustments can correct pelvic misalignments, preventing uneven leg lengths and promoting a more stable and even gait.

All these changes are essential for a smooth, healthy walking pattern. So, if you’re feeling off balance or your walk doesn’t feel right, these adjustments are what you need to help you move more naturally and confidently again.

How Long Does It Take to See Improvements in Gait with Chiropractic Care?
Chiropractic Care for Gait Abnormalities

How quickly you’ll see improvements in your walk after starting chiropractic care varies. It all depends on what’s specifically going on with your gait and how severe the issues are. 

Some people might feel a difference right after their first session—they walk out feeling steadier and more balanced. 

For others, it may take longer. If you have been dealing with an abnormal gait and it has been a part of your life for a while, you might need a series of adjustments spread over weeks or even months to see significant changes. Every patient’s journey to a better walk is different.

How Do Rehabilitation Exercises Complement Chiropractic Treatments?

Rehabilitation exercises boost the benefits of chiropractic treatments. 

When you pair them with chiropractic adjustments, you’ll further strengthen your muscles, increase flexibility, and reinforce the good changes made during your chiropractic sessions. This all adds up to more lasting improvements in your gait.

Physical therapy adds another layer of depth to the rehabilitation process by incorporating various targeted exercises and techniques tailored to the individual’s specific needs. 

These include exercises to improve balance, training in assistive devices, or activities designed to enhance coordination and endurance. Physical therapists use methods like manual therapy, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation to reduce pain and inflammation, which complements the adjustments made by chiropractors.

Physical therapy provides education on body mechanics and movement patterns that promote better health and prevent future injuries. By understanding how to move correctly and avoid placing undue stress on their bodies, patients can actively manage their condition and maintain their quality of life.

Discover How Chiropractic Care Can Transform Your Gait in New Jersey!

The chiropractic team at Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center adheres to the highest medical standards to provide superior chiropractic care. Our mission is to provide unparalleled patient care in a comfortable, healing atmosphere. 

Access our contact form or call us at (201) 357-6539 to learn more about our chiropractic care services! Our offices at 532 Anderson Avenue, Cliffside Park, NJ 07010, and 62 Summit Ave, Hackensack, NJ 07601, are ready to welcome you as we proudly serve the areas of New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, PA, and Baltimore, MD. Also, access our blog, Facebook, and Instagram pages for more information on chiropractic care for gait disorders!