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Painful Gait, Antalgic Gait

 

A patient with antalgic gait does not want to spend time on the affected leg due to the pain. The patient wants to get their weight off the affected extremity. With antalgic gait, there is an abnormal shortened stance phase on one of their steps. The swing phase is enhanced on the affected side and may be shortened on the normal leg in order to get the normal leg back to the ground. This is done in order to lift the painful extremity off of the ground. When pain is increased by walking, it leads to an antalgic gait. An antalgic gait can be caused by multiple factors due to pain in any part of the lower extremity. It is usually caused from hip or knee pathology or from severe disc radiation symptoms. The patient is guarding from the pain in the involved lower extremity. The pain can be helped by using a cane on the opposite side of the painful extremity. When pain arises from the hip joint, there is a lurch of the trunk towards the painful side during the stance phase. The center of gravity of the body moves towards the painful hip. This will decrease the moment arm of body weight to the hip joint, and this will reduce the total force on the hip. This should not be confused with Trendelenburg gait, which results from abductor muscle weakness.

Author
Nabil Ebraheim, MD

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