If you are falling often or losing your balance when walking, you may have an unsteady gait. An unsteady gait can be the result of a variety of conditions and diseases or aging. If you are having issues with your gait, contact an experienced podiatrist to determine the type of treatment for your specific needs. Podiatrists can help when you're unsteady on your feet

Reasons Why You May Feel Unsteady on Your Feet

Having an unsteady gait can cause a person to lose their balance while walking or standing. For those who are elderly, this may be due to a degenerative disease such as arthritis or dementia and can put them at a higher risk for injury due to falls. Some other causes of an unsteady gait include:

  • Weak muscles. Muscles that are weak can be the result of an injury or a neurological disease. When a patient develops muscle weakness, it can cause unsteadiness when walking or standing.
  • Foot drop. Foot drop makes it difficult to lift the front of the foot to clear the ground when walking. This can cause you to drag your foot, and you may be at risk for tripping, falling, and being unsteady on your feet.
  • Peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy is common among diabetics and is caused by nerve damage. This condition causes a loss of sensation in the feet that can result in an unsteady gait.
  • Disorder of the central nervous system. There are many disorders of the central nervous system that can cause an unsteady gait. Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease affect the brain and can cause a loss of balance resulting in an unsteady walking gait. 
  • Vestibular problem. A problem with the inner ear can cause dizziness and a feeling of unsteadiness on your feet.
  • Hereditary disorder. A hereditary disorder such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disorder affects the nerves in your legs and can cause a loss of feeling in the feet and legs making it hard to keep your balance.
  • Arthritis. Arthritis causes inflammation of the joints and the cartilage in your feet and ankles to wear away. When this occurs, it can affect how you walk and keep your balance.
  • Injury. An injury to the foot or ankle can also make it difficult to walk or keep your balance.
  • Medication. Some medications can cause side effects such as unsteadiness or a loss of balance.

Treatment Options

Once you are diagnosed with a cause for your unsteadiness, treatment options can be discussed and tailored to your specific needs. Some problems with balance and unsteadiness resolve if the underlying condition is treated.

A podiatrist can evaluate your walking gait, examine your feet and ankles, and can make recommendations for treatment. Options a podiatrist may recommend for unsteadiness may include:

  • Custom orthotics. A podiatrist can analyze your gait and determine what type of custom orthotics can be used inside your shoes to help keep your feet stable and in the proper position while walking or standing.
  • Physiotherapy exercises. Physiotherapy exercises are used to strengthen any weak muscles and to help with balance issues.
  • Walking aid. A walking aid such as a cane or crutches can be used when walking to help with an unsteady gait.

Because unsteadiness can put you at risk for falls, it is important to take precautions to prevent injuries. Be sure to:

  • Remove any objects or obstacles from the areas in your home where you walk most frequently.
  • Wear shoes that have non-slip soles and provide support and stability.
  • Have a walking aid nearby to help with balance.

Contact Us with Questions

If you are experiencing unsteadiness on your feet, contact Greater Washing Advanced Podiatry for help. We provide a free, initial consultation. To set up an appointment, fill out our online contact form, or call us today.