Does it hurt when you put your weight on your foot, knee or hip when you are trying to walk? In that case what most of the people do is to avoid putting any pressure on the area that hurts. This is not a permanent solution.
You may end up walking with a limp or the staggering walk. In that case, you are suffering from an antalgic gait condition.
What causes antalgic gait?
The antalgic gate is induced by pain. Any pain that affects these organs is much likely to affect your walk. There could be so many reasons for the pain. Such as;
Injuries; from sports, accidents or mishaps
Diseases; arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, gout, psoriatic arthritis)
Body deformity; complete or partial dislocation of a joint, bone misalignment (caused by a fracture from past), rickets (a disease of vitamin D deficiency)
Backbone problems; sciatica, spinal osteomyelitis (a bacterial infection between spinal vertebrae), discitis
Is there a treatment for antalgic gait?
The treatment for antalgic gait depends on why are you having it. Identifying the root cause i.e. the origin, source, and reason for the pain are necessary before deciding any possible treatment. Once it is clear that why are you experiencing from antalgic gait, the doctor is able to suggest you the most relevant and effective treatment.
Specific cases leading to antalgic gait
- When the patient has arthritis
When it is clear that the patient is suffering from arthritis, next is to identify which type of arthritis has attacked you. Based on this information the doctor will suggest using any of the following.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, acetaminophen, colchicine, duloxetine, corticosteroids, disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, Janus kinase inhibitory drugs etc.
- When the patient has a leg or any joint deformity
In the case of joint dislocation, the doctor may take a physical examination of your joint. He may ask you to move it into place and then immobilize it while work on healing the injury. It is mostly accompanied by painkilling medicine.
- When the patient has a bone malalignment
For bone malalignment, the doctor may perform an osteotomy on you. This process involves cutting or re-breaking the affected bone, realigning it, and then using modes to repair it with the help of a rod that is placed in the middle or with using a plate and screws.
- When the patients have rickets
Rickets is a disease of bones, which is a common reason for inducing an antalgic gait. In this case, the doctor would ask you to improve your vitamin D levels along with calcium. He may also recommend you supplements for this purpose.
Cases when the patient has back issues
The most common back problem inducing an antalgic gait is sciatica. Although most of such cases are resolved on their own in maximum six weeks. In severe pain, the doctor may describe anti-inflammatory pain relief medicines. He may also ask you to use cold or hot packs on the painful area. Doing a moderate exercise in such cases improves the condition.
- Spinal osteomyelitis
In this case, your doctor may treat you within five to six weeks. Intravenous antibiotics treat spinal osteomyelitis. Sometimes a surgery is required to stop the infection from spreading.
In all conditions, the pain control techniques are supplemented with a course of antibiotics and painkillers. Antibiotics are not required for everyone. You may take them if you have a bacterial infection. In most of the cases, surgery is the last option to be considered, where all other treatment options fail.
Use of devices for the walk
When the process of identifying the pain is addressed, the doctor may also like to prescribe treatment for making your walk normal again. Though not like perfectly normal he will make sure to make it treatable as much as possible.
- Using a cane, crutches, or a walker
In cases of trauma, the doctor may suggest you take help from devices such as a cane, crutches or walkers. Using these devices help to balance the weight and the affected, painful area doesn’t have to carry too much weight. This is highly significant to make the healing process better.
- The advice of rest
If the gait is affected by any other reason and not a disease or trauma, it only needs resting time. In the case when a sprain or muscle issue causes gait, rest is the best treatment. Using cold or hot compress may speed up the healing process.
- Physical therapy
Mostly for trauma patients, a physical therapy can help to improve the muscle tone, coordination, and joint mobility in a patient. However you can not try it by yourself, your doctor will recommend it after analyzing your condition.
Not all but some low impact exercises help to improve the condition. It also helps to build strength and endurance and balance. A personalized training significantly helps your gait to improve.
The final word
Antalgic gait is not as such a disease but a situation that represents an injury, trauma or underlying disease. At one point of life, you may almost experience from antalgic gait. This limp is not permanent if you consider it seriously.
The only serious cases of antalgic gait are injury and arthritis. The pain caused by these two is much more severe than casual injuries. In these cases, you should consult your doctor as soon as possible to get yourself a customized treatment plan. Get your complete diagnoses before doing anything on your own i.e. exercise. Once the reason of pain is addressed, your gait can return back to normal.