Gait dysfunctions are changes in your normal walking pattern, often related to a disease or abnormality in different areas of the body. Gait dysfunctions are among the most common causes of falls in older adults, accounting for approximately 17% of falls. This guide will help you better understand how gait dysfunctions are categorized, and how treatment by a physical therapist can help you regain a healthy gait. Physical therapists are experts at identifying the root causes of gait dysfunctions, and designing treatments that restore gait.
Greater trochanteric bursitis, also known as greater trochanteric pain syndrome, is one of the most common causes of hip pain. While greater trochanteric bursitis affects both active and inactive individuals, it is most common in moderately active, middle-aged females or those who have recently increased their activity level. In all individuals, pain on the outside of the hip from greater trochanteric bursitis can result in a limited ability to lie on the involved side, walk, climb stairs, squat, or participate in recreational activities. To treat greater trochanteric bursitis, physical therapists typically prescribe a combination of stretching and strengthening activities to decrease irritation in the hip and resolve pain.
A groin strain is an injury to the groin area, the area of the body where the abdomen meets the leg and the inner thigh muscles attach to the pubic bone. Typically, groin strains occur in the muscles of the upper inner thigh near the pubic bone or in the front of the hip. Although more common in athletes than non-athletes, groin strains can occur during any type of forceful movement of the leg, such as jumping, kicking the leg up, or changing directions while running. Groin strains account for 10% of all hockey injuries and 5% of all soccer injuries. Physical therapists treat groin strains by reducing pain and helping patients improve muscle strength and leg motion and to increase the speed of recovery.
A hamstring injury occurs when 1 or more of the 3 hamstring muscles or tendons (a type of soft tissue connecting the muscle to the bone) tear. It is 1 of the most common injuries of the lower body, particularly affecting athletes participating in sports such as football, soccer, or track. After tearing a hamstring muscle, a person is 2 to 6 times more likely to suffer a subsequent injury. Surgery is required to treat the most severe cases. However, in most cases, hamstring injuries are managed with physical therapy.
Pain of any type that occurs in any part of the head is called a headache. There are many different types of headaches, with just as many causes. The International Headache Society describes several different categories of headache:
Migraine and cluster
Secondary headaches from an underlying condition, such as fever, infectious disease, sinus disorder, or in rare cases, a tumor or more serious illness
Cranial neuralgias, facial pain, and other headaches
It’s estimated that as many as 75% of us will have some form of back or neck pain at some point in our lifetime. The good news is that most of us will recover without the need for surgery and conservative care such as physical therapy usually gets better results than surgery. A herniated disk is one cause of neck and back pain.
Hip bursitis is a painful condition that affects 15% of women and 8.5% of men of all ages in the United States. The condition tends to develop more in middle-aged and elderly individuals. Hip bursitis can have many causes, but the most common is a repetitive activity, such as walking or running on an uneven surface, which creates friction in the hip area. Athletes often develop hip bursitis after running up and down hills repetitively. The condition can also be caused by abnormal walking, such as limping, due to an uneven leg length, or arthritis in the back, hip, knee, or other joints in the leg. It can also occur without any specific cause. Physical therapy can be an effective treatment for hip bursitis to reduce pain, swelling, stiffness, and any associated weakness in the hip, back, or lower extremity.
Hip impingement involves a change in the shape of the surface of the hip joint that predisposes it to damage, resulting in stiffness and pain. Hip impingement is a process that may precede hip osteoarthritis. It most often occurs in young, active people. A recent study found that 87% of teens and adults with hip pain showed evidence of hip impingement on diagnostic images taken of their hip joints. To treat hip impingement, physical therapists prescribe stretches and strengthening exercises to better balance the muscles around the hip to protect it, and use manual therapies to help restore range of motion and increase comfort.
Hip labral tears occur when the labrum, a band of cartilage surrounding the hip joint, is injured. Labral injuries can be the result of trauma, such as a fall or a car accident, but are most commonly caused by repetitive trauma to the hip joint. Individuals who participate in sports that require extremes of motion, such as figure skating, repetitive twisting and “cutting,” like hockey or soccer, or long-distance running are most often diagnosed with labral tears. To treat the symptoms associated with a labral tear, physical therapists typically prescribe a combination of stretching and strengthening activities to decrease irritation in the hip.
Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) is one of the most common causes of knee pain, particularly in individuals involved in endurance sports. It accounts for up to 12% of running injuries and up to 24% of cycling injuries. ITBS is typically managed conservatively through physical therapy and temporary activity modification.