What Are Gait and Balance?

While walking and standing may seem like activities that don’t require attention, many people struggle with balance and gait issues. Problems with walking or balance may be temporary and caused by an injury or could be chronic and due to underlying musculoskeletal and neurological disorders. These difficulties may increase your risk of falls, injury, and lead to other health conditions. Regardless of the reasoning behind your gait and balance issues, working with a certified physical therapist can get you started off on the right foot towards the road to recovery.

Is there a difference between gait and balance?

While very similar, there is a difference between balance and gait. According to Medical News Today, gait refers to the pattern of limb movements made when a person walks while balance is your body’s ability to maintain its center of gravity. In other words, gait disorders affect your ability to walk or run, and balance disorders make it difficult to remain upright whether sitting or standing.

North Attleboro Physical Therapist providing back pain relief

Frequently Asked Questions About Gait and Balance Disorders and Physical Therapy

Depending on the cause of your gait and balance issue, you may experience a number of symptoms. These symptoms include (but are not limited to):

  • Dizziness
  • Loss of balance
  • Difficulty walking
  • Frequent falls
  • Motion sickness
  • Numbness in feet or legs
  • Unsteadiness or feelings of “spinning”

If you experience any of the above symptoms and they begin to affect your day-to-day life, it’s time to contact your doctor to see if you have a gait and balance disorder.

As mentioned above, gait and balance disorders can arise for a number of reasons including injuries or neurological disorders. Typically balance disorders are caused by issues with the vestibular system—a sensory system responsible for providing a sense of balance and spatial awareness. Gait disorders can also be caused by neurological issues but are more commonly due to musculoskeletal problems.

Some common causes for gait and balance disorders include:


  • Injury
  • Arthritis
  • Vertigo
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Gout
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Migraines

Seeking help from a certified physical therapist for your gait and balance issues can significantly reduce your risk of falling, increase your range of mobility, and overall enhance your quality of life. After being diagnosed with a gait or balance disorder, your physical therapist will work to develop a treatment plan that’s right for you.

Depending on your condition and goals, your physical therapist will provide you with a number of treatments including stretching and strengthening exercises, gait and balance retraining exercises, and even vestibular rehabilitation. Vestibular rehabilitation works to improve your overall vestibular system, therefore improving your balance.

How do I get started?

Our certified physical therapist is experienced in gait and balance issues. Contact us today to schedule an evaluation and learn how PhysioHealth can get you back to feeling like yourself.

About Us

PhysioHealth Physical Therapy was founded by Dr. Christopher Gomes, DPT, OCS, CSCS. Our clinic provides specialized care within a friendly and professional environment. At PhysioHealth you will receive one-on-one treatment that is evidence-based and personalized to meet your goals. You will always receive comprehensive education on your injury and recovery plan in order to maximize your knowledge and results.