Why do patients need to understand the importance of gait in regards to the human body? This may seem like a simple question but difficult to answer if you have an underlying medical condition not yet diagnosed by a doctor. Sometime a patient may experience a deviation of the normal gait pattern more commonly known as a limp. The initial contact of the heel is where the gait pattern begins and continues through the shifting of weight from the foot to the toes, where the weight is further transferred to the opposite leg in efforts to move the other leg forward to take a step. Thus, a limp can occur with the inability to establish full weight bearing on one leg caused by pain symptoms or structural problems of foot, ankle, and hips or back.
Pain may be an obvious indicator of a problem or injury. By limping, your body modifies its movement or weight bearing in response to your pain or structural problems. A gait standard has not been established because no two people share the same walking pattern. Doctors merely rely more on personal observation to determine if the patient has an irregular gait pattern. Rare medical conditions pose significant challenges when multiple doctors are trying to pinpoint the cause of the pain and share difference of opinions. Patients may have multiple surgeries before finding the right specialist to identify and diagnose the cause.
People sustain injuries from accidents every day, which can leave one leg being shorter than the other. Often a wedge is inserted into a shoe to compensate for the leg length. In some cases, both legs can be the same length but the person walks with a limp caused by an underlying medical condition.
Gait is not about being able to put one foot in front of the other, but merely a variety of systems and body parts that can exert force and move collectively in harmony. In rare cases, a bacterial infection in the leg or foot can be indicative of a neurological problem like nerve damage, neuromuscular disease, an injury of the spine or brain tumor. If you have a limp that continues after five days, then you should seek immediate medical attention. Ignoring the limp is the worst thing a patient can do if they have a serious underlying medical condition.