What are walking problems?
If you are like most people, you walk thousands of steps each day. You walk to do your daily activities, get around, and exercise. It's something that you usually don't think about. But for those people who have a problem with walking, daily life can be more difficult.
Walking problems may cause you to:
- Walk with your head and neck bent over
- Drag, drop, or shuffle your feet
- Have irregular, jerky movements when walking
- Take smaller steps
- Walk more slowly or stiffly
What causes walking problems?
The pattern of how you walk is called your gait. Many different diseases and conditions can affect your gait and lead to problems with walking. They include:
- Abnormal development of the muscles or bones of your legs or feet
- Arthritis of the hips, knees, ankles, or feet
- Cerebellar disorders, which are disorders of the area of the brain that controls coordination and balance
- Foot problems, including corns and calluses, sores, and warts
- Injuries, such as fractures (broken bones), sprains, and tendinitis
- Movement disorders, such as Parkinson's disease
- Neurologic diseases, including multiple sclerosis and peripheral nerve disorders
- Vision problems
How is the cause of a walking problem diagnosed?
To make a diagnosis, your health care provider will ask about your medical history and do a physical exam. This will include checking your bones and muscles and doing a neurological exam. In some cases, you may have other tests, such as lab or imaging tests.
What are the treatments for walking problems?
Treatment of walking problems depends on the cause. If the cause is a medical condition, treating that condition often improves your walking. Some common types of treatments for walking problems may include:
- Mobility aids such as walkers and canes
- Physical therapy
- Special shoes, insoles, splints, or braces
Diagnosis and Tests
- Foot Problems (American Academy of Family Physicians) Also in Spanish
- Foot Push-Up Test (American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons)
- That Pain in Your Back Could Be Linked to Your Feet (American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons)
- Cavus Foot (High-Arched Foot) (American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons) Also in Spanish
- Chronic Ankle Instability (American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons) Also in Spanish
- Equinus (American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons) Also in Spanish
- Flexible Flatfoot (American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons) Also in Spanish
- Foot Drop Syndrome (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)
- Gait or Walking Problems (National Multiple Sclerosis Society) - PDF
- Hallux Rigidus (American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons) Also in Spanish
- Progressive Collapsing Foot Deformity (Flatfoot) (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons)
- Tarsal Coalition (American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons) Also in Spanish
- Trouble Moving or Walking (Parkinson's Foundation) Also in Spanish
- Walking (Gait) Difficulties (National Multiple Sclerosis Society)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Prevalence and severity of freezing of gait in a Danish cohort...
- Article: Uncovering Subtle Gait Deterioration in People with Early-Stage Multiple Sclerosis Using...
- Article: Investigating gait-responsive somatosensory cueing from a wearable device to improve walking...
- Walking Problems -- see more articles
Find an Expert
- Find a Physical Therapist (American Physical Therapy Association)
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Also in Spanish
- Developmental Dislocation (Dysplasia) of the Hip (DDH) (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons)
- Don't Ignore Your Kid's Heel Pain (American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons)
- In-Toeing (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish
- Intoeing (American Academy of Family Physicians) Also in Spanish
- Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease (For Parents) (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish
- Out-Toeing (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish
- Sever's Disease (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish
- Toe Walking (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish
- Toe Walking in Children (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- Eldercare at Home: Mobility Problems (AGS Health in Aging Foundation)