Gait abnormality

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1] Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Usman Ali Akbar, M.B.B.S.[2]

Synonyms and Keywords: Gait disturbance


Complete Differential Diagnosis

Persons suffering from peripheral neuropathy experience numbness and tingling in their hands and feet. This can cause difficulty in walking, climbing stairs and maintaining balance. Gait abnormality that results from chemotherapy is generally temporary in nature, though recovery times of six months to a year are common.

Specific abnormalities and examples of causes

Antalgic gait

User favors certain motions to avoid acute pain. [3]

Drunken gait/Cerebellar ataxia

Reeling in a style like that of an intoxicated person. [4]

Festinating gait/Parkinsonian gait

Patient moves with short, jerky steps. Term derives from Latin "festino", or "to hurry". [5] [6] [7]

Pigeon gait

Torsional abnormalities. [8]

Propulsive gait

Stiff, with head and neck bent. [9]

Steppage gait/High stepping gait

Toes point down. [10] [11] [12]

Scissor gait

Legs flexed slightly at the hips and knees, giving the appearance of crouching, with the knees and thighs hitting or crossing in a scissors-like movement. Often mixed with or accompanied by spastic gait, a stiff, foot-dragging walk caused by one-sided, long-term muscle contraction. Most common in patients with spastic cerebral palsy, usually diplegic and paraplegic varieties. The individual is forced to walk on tiptoe unless the dorsiflexor muscles are released by an orthaepedic surgical procedure. Muscle contractures of the adductors result in thighs and knees rubbing together and crossing in a manner analogous to scissors.

These features are typical, and usually result in some form and to some degree regardless of the mildness or severity of the spastic CP condition.

  • rigidity and excessive adduction of the leg in swing
  • plantar flexion of the ankle
  • flexion at the knee
  • adduction and internal rotation at the hip
  • contractures of all spastic muscles
  • complicated assisting movements of the upper limbs when walking [13].[14]

See Also

Sensory ataxia gait/Stomping gait

Uncoordinated walking [15] [16] [17] [18]

Spastic gait

Asymmetric foot dragging. [19] [20]

Trendelenburg gait

Waddling/Myopathic gait

Walking like a duck. [21] [22]

Magnetic gait

Feet seem attached to floor as if by a magnet. In magnetic gait, each step is initiated in a "wresting" motion carrying feet upward and forward. Magnetic gait can be visualized in terms of a powerful magnet being forcefully pulled from a steel plate.


  1. Sailer, Christian, Wasner, Susanne. Differential Diagnosis Pocket. Hermosa Beach, CA: Borm Bruckmeir Publishing LLC, 2002:77 ISBN 1591032016
  2. Kahan, Scott, Smith, Ellen G. In A Page: Signs and Symptoms. Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing, 2004:68 ISBN 140510368X

See also

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