A walking error, which is popularly referred to as limping, is limping or lameness, which represents a massive restriction of mobility for those affected.
What is limping or hobbling?
When limping or limping, there is a noticeable irregularity in the gait. Depending on the extent, this can be more or less pronounced. Limping prevents people from moving as quickly as they normally can.
Various impairments known as shortening, painful or stiffening limping occur when limping. Depending on the cause, limping is also divided into the so-called intermittent, psychogenic, paralytic and hip limping.
Other manifestations of limping can also be triggered by various other causes. In all variants of limping, the disorders can occur as so-called mixed forms.
The limping can have very different causes, which are both psychological and physical. The triggers for an irregular gait are usually based on the holding and supporting apparatus of the leg and usually on a disturbed transmission of nerve impulses. In the case of limping, this can in turn be attributed to a disease of the controlling nerve areas.
A limp can be caused by two legs of unequal length, a misalignment of the pelvis that occurs on one side, deformities (deviations from the normal build) and discomfort of the foot, stiffness and muscle contractures, balance problems caused by a drop foot or clubfoot, damage to the knee or hip joint, Arthritic impairments and so-called neuromuscular system diseases arise.
Other causes of limping include damage to the muscles, paralysis, gait disorders due to various bone diseases or lower leg amputations.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
The limping or limping is initially noticeable through the typical gait disturbances. The affected person can no longer put weight on one or both feet as before and therefore shifts their body weight – limping occurs. The limp can usually be recognized by the conspicuous gait. Whether and which accompanying symptoms occur depends on the cause of the limp.
In general, limping is associated with pain. If the symptoms are caused by an injury to the foot, swelling, bruising and pressure pain can also occur. If gout or a rheumatic disease is the cause, symptoms appear throughout the body and stabbing pains also occur in other limbs. The limping may be accompanied by a feeling of illness or a general feeling of being unwell.
In the long run, limping can lead to poor posture and subsequent symptoms such as joint wear and tear, back pain or tension. As a result of the limited ability to move, psychological problems can arise, which are often exacerbated by the abnormal gait. If a bruise, overstretching or another comparatively harmless cause is responsible for the limping, the symptoms usually subside quickly. Once the underlying condition is gone, it can reappear as before.
Diagnosis & History
When diagnosing limping, physicians rely on a variety of proven methods. In addition to the precise examination of the gait pattern and an optical examination of the bodily functions in the area of the muscular and skeletal apparatus, various neurological procedures are useful to detect a limp.
In order to precisely clarify the causes within the framework of the diagnosis of limping, imaging procedures are often appropriate. If the limping is only transient due to a psychogenic or hysterical trigger, a psychiatrist will also be consulted for diagnosis.
By examining the gait pattern, it is already possible to identify the type of limping without technical aids. If this is not clearly possible, additional diagnostic methods are used to support this. In addition, the reports of those affected are also important in order to clearly identify a limp.
The limping is a very unhealthy physical condition and, in the long term, without treatment, it can cause significant limitations and discomfort in the patient’s life. This usually causes severe pain and swelling. Those affected also suffer from restricted mobility and can no longer actively participate in life.
The patient’s resilience is also significantly reduced by limping. In some cases, those affected are dependent on walking aids. Balance disorders usually occur. It is not uncommon for certain joints and muscles to be heavily strained and thus damaged as a result of limping. In the long term, irreversible damage can result, which can lead to severe mobility restrictions.
Treatment of these symptoms usually does not lead to further complications. However, it always depends on the cause, so that a positive course of the disease cannot always be guaranteed. Under certain circumstances, the complaint cannot be completely cured.
It is not uncommon for limping to occur as a result of a psychological disorder, which requires treatment by a psychologist. Life expectancy is not affected by limping. However, the limping itself can have a negative effect on the psyche of the person concerned and thus lead to depression and other psychological upsets.
When should you go to the doctor?
If the limping can be traced back to the formation of a blister on the foot, a doctor’s visit is usually not necessary. Normally, the blister heals within a few days and the affected person can then move around without symptoms. A doctor’s visit is advisable as soon as further symptoms appear. If blisters do not heal or if the affected areas become inflamed, consult a doctor. If self-treatment measures such as ointments, cooling compresses or creams have no effect, help should be sought. If the limping causes problems in the muscles, nerves or tendons, a doctor is needed.
In the case of unsteady gait, incorrect posture of the body or pain, a doctor should be consulted. If the person concerned suffers from back problems, hip problems, heavy legs or discolouration of the skin, an examination should be initiated. Circulatory disorders, a reduced level of performance or numbness in the legs are considered unusual and should be clarified. A doctor should be consulted promptly to determine the causes. If it can be determined that the legs are of different lengths, it is advisable to consult a doctor. In children, limping is often caused by growth spurts. If the symptoms persist for several weeks, a doctor should be consulted for a check-up.
Treatment & Therapy
Treatment methods for limping are varied and extremely advanced. On the one hand, the therapies are limited to general and external applications. On the other hand, therapy methods are very effective, which represent an internal and very specific treatment of limping.
In most cases where the limping is based on clear causes, combined therapies are used. In addition, surgical interventions can also bring about freedom from symptoms, as can be achieved with limping through physiotherapeutic procedures.
If patients suffer from a shortened limp, which can be remedied by compensating for the difference between the lengths of the legs, orthopedic aids are an adequate option in addition to surgical interventions.
In order to cope with a limp caused by mental disorders, psychotherapeutic treatments and the prescription of appropriate medication by a specialist doctor are useful in order to restore mental balance.
Hip limping, a common manifestation of limping, is treated with trochanteric surgery.
Outlook & Forecast
If the limping is caused by bad or wrong footwear, changing the footwear can alleviate the symptoms at any time. In these cases, there are no permanent changes in the skeletal system, but corrective measures that are necessary. It is advisable to consult an orthopaedist so that you can be permanently free of symptoms. For many of those affected, the size of the shoes is not correct or the heels of the shoes are not optimally adapted to the needs of the body.
If the affected person has a bad posture of the hips, back or legs, therapeutic measures or an operation are often necessary to improve the symptoms. Despite all efforts, healing is not always possible. This must be assessed individually and depends on various factors such as the duration or age of the patient. If the bad posture cannot be completely corrected, a lifelong impairment can be expected. When replacing joints or other stabilizing bones of the skeletal system, a good prognosis is possible with good rehabilitation and compliance with the treatment plan.
If the limp occurs after an accident or a fall, bone damage is often present. With good medical care, the damaged area usually heals completely within the coming weeks or months.
The prevention of limping can be achieved to some extent by strengthening the muscles and ligaments of the lower extremities on their own. Impairments that are congenital, accidental or acquired over the course of life that lead to limping cannot be prevented. In order to counteract damage to bones or joints prophylactically, incorrect loads should be avoided. This prevents an associated limp.
The need for follow-up care depends on the cause of the limp. In some cases it is even omitted entirely. This is the case when the problem is due to the wrong footwear. Choosing different footwear can help. If, on the other hand, there are physical malpositions, for example on the hips or back, treatment is essential.
This does not always lead to the desired success, which can result in lifelong impairments. Aftercare can then only take on an accompanying character. Physiotherapy is the most suitable aftercare measure. In practice units, patients learn how to use their musculoskeletal system efficiently. Sometimes the limping also puts a strain on the psyche.
Talk therapy and medication can help. Aftercare therefore only plays a subordinate role. Either the characteristic limp disappears or it remains in a specific form. In the latter case, the aim is to prevent complications and enable the patient to live as normal a day as possible.
In the case of severe malpositions, those affected can use aids such as walkers. In case of acute difficulties, you contact a doctor. An orthopedist is regularly called in to analyze the individual problem.
You can do that yourself
Hobbies can be due to a wide variety of triggers and be both physical and mental in nature. In most cases, however, a disorder of the musculoskeletal system or nerves is responsible for the unsteady gait. For this reason, a limp should always be brought to the doctor’s attention. Whether and which self-help measures the patient can take depends on the cause of the disorder.
If the limping is due to a congenital physical disability that cannot be treated or cannot be completely treated, walking aids often make everyday mobility easier. If the limp is very severe, the occasional use of a wheelchair can also help. In any case, those affected should ask their doctor, specialist medical dealers and their health insurance company which technical aids are available to make their everyday lives easier.
If the limp results from an accident or other injury, patients can usually help to rehabilitate the affected muscles and joints through physiotherapy exercises. In this way, late effects and a permanent restriction of mobility are usually avoided.
For simple disorders, such as a simple ankle sprain, blisters on your feet, or a swollen and painful ankle after a bug bite, home remedies can also provide relief. Compresses with acetic clay from the pharmacy help with swelling. Blisters on the heels heal faster if they are washed out with white wine, then creamed with zinc ointment and covered with a plaster.